Smart City Telecom Blog

Digging Safely

By Krista Lockhart
Call 811 Before You Dig

Digging Safely: The Importance of Calling 811 Before Excavating in Your Yard

Digging in your yard may seem simple, but what lies beneath the surface can pose significant risks to you, your property, and your community. Calling 811 before digging is not just a precaution; ensuring safety and preventing potential disasters is crucial. This blog will explore why homeowners should make that call before breaking ground in their yards. 

What is 811? 

811 serves as the nationwide call-before-you-dig hotline. If you are contemplating any excavation of your property, it is essential to dial 811 or visit your state’s 811 center website a few business days before digging. This ensures that the approximate positions of buried utilities are marked with paint or flags, significantly reducing the risk of accidentally hitting an underground utility line. 


Why Call 811 Before You Dig? 

Calling 811 before digging is crucial to ensure safety, prevent damage, and streamline excavation. Here is why it is essential: 


  • Underground Utilities Exist Everywhere – Beneath your property lies a network of essential underground utilities, such as water, gas, electricity, and telecommunications. Striking any of these can result in severe consequences, including service outages, property damage, and even personal injury. 


  • Legal RequirementIn many places, contacting 811 is not just a recommendation; it’s the law. Homeowners must notify their local 811 center before digging to avoid any potential damage to underground infrastructure.


  • Preventing Service Disruptions – Hitting a utility line can lead to service disruptions for your home and the entire neighborhood. This inconvenience can be avoided by calling 811 and allowing utility companies to mark the location of their lines.


  • Avoiding Costly RepairsRepairing damaged utility lines can be a costly affair. Homeowners may be responsible for repair expenses, making a simple call to 811 a cost-effective and prudent choice.


  • Protecting the EnvironmentAccidental damage to underground utilities can result in environmental hazards. Leaking gas or chemicals can harm soil, water, and wildlife. By calling 811, you contribute to environmental conservation by preventing such incidents.


  • Ensuring Personal SafetyStriking a utility line poses a significant safety risk. Gas leaks, electrical shocks, or water damage can lead to severe injuries or even fatalities. Prioritizing personal safety by calling 811 is an essential responsibility for any homeowner.


  • Efficient Planning of ExcavationKnowing the location of underground utilities allows homeowners to plan their excavations more efficiently. By avoiding utility lines, projects can proceed smoothly, saving time and effort. 


When You are Planning to Dig 

Call 811 at least three days before you dig anywhere on your property and before starting a project. A locator will mark lines on the property. The service is free. 

Call 811 before installing septic tanks, sewer lines, swimming pools, wells, sprinkler systems and water lines, basketball goal posts, mailbox posts, fence and deck posts, and trees and shrubs. 

Even if you have had lines marked for previous projects, call 811 whenever you plan to dig. The depth of utility lines can vary for several reasons, including erosion, previous projects, and uneven surfaces. The risk of striking a utility line exists even when digging only a few inches. 


Once Your Lines Are Marked 

Always dig around the markers – not on them. Always dig by hand within 30 inches of the markers, depending on the requirements in your state. Excavation equipment can damage underground lines. 

Calling 811 before digging in your yard is a simple yet powerful action that can prevent many problems. It ensures the safety of your home, community, and the environment while saving you from potential legal and financial repercussions. Digging responsibly is not just a homeowner’s duty; it is a collective commitment to maintaining the integrity of our underground infrastructure. So, before you grab that shovel, call 811 – it is the first step towards a safer and more secure excavation experience.