Springtime is here, bringing with it the urge to get your hands dirty. From planting a new tree to “planting” a mailbox, it seems we Georgians will welcome pretty much any excuse to dig. By all means, don’t fight the urge, BUT be sure that whether your digging project is big or small, you don’t forget to first make the call — to 811, that is.
Before you squeeze your eyes shut and start humming loudly to block out this service message, consider this: Nearly 40 percent of U.S. homeowners who plan to dig this year will put themselves and others at risk by not calling 811 before starting.
Nearly 40 percent of U.S. homeowners who plan to dig this year will put themselves and others at risk by not calling 811 before starting.
April is National Safe Digging Month (It’s a real thing; you can look it up.). In observance, Walton Gas is sharing the results of a national survey conducted by the Common Ground Alliance (CGA).
The results revealed that 36 percent of homeowners who plan to dig this year for projects like landscaping, installing a fence or mailbox, or building a deck, pond or patio and other DIY projects, will put themselves and their communities at risk by not calling 811 a few days beforehand to learn the approximate location of underground utilities.
Digging without knowing the approximate location of underground utilities can result in serious injuries, service disruptions and costly repairs when gas, electric, communications, water and sewer lines are damaged. This includes Walton Gas lines that serve your neighborhood and home.
The CGA survey also revealed that 47 percent of homeowners who plan to dig this year have no experience with the 811 process. The most popular planned projects cited among surveyed homeowners include:
- Planting a tree or shrub (63 percent)
- Building a fence (35 percent)
- Building a patio or deck (28 percent)
- Installing a mailbox (16 percent)
National Safe Digging Month is an opportunity to bring extra attention to the issue of underground utility line safety and reduce the risk of unnecessary infrastructure damage.
Walton Gas customers are urged to take the following steps when planning a digging project this spring:
- Always call 811 or 1-800-282-7411a few days before digging, regardless of the depth or familiarity with the property.
- Plan ahead. Call on Monday or Tuesday for work planned for an upcoming weekend, providing ample time for the approximate location of lines to be marked.
- Confirm that all lines have been marked.
- Consider moving the location of your project if it is near utility line markings.
- If a contractor has been hired, confirm that a call to 811 has been made. Don’t allow work to begin if the lines aren’t marked.
- For more information, visit Georgia811.com.
An underground utility line in the U.S. is damaged once every nine minutes because someone decided to dig without first calling 811.
An underground utility line in the U.S. is damaged once every nine minutes because someone decided to dig without first calling 811, according to industry data collected by CGA. There are more than 20 million miles of underground utilities in the United States. That figure equates to more than one football field’s length (105 yards) of buried utilities for every man, woman and child in the U.S.
Any Georgian who calls 811 a few days before digging is connected to a local notification center that will take the caller’s information and communicate it to local utility companies. Professional locators will then visit the dig site to mark the approximate location of underground utility lines with spray paint, flags or both. Once a site has been accurately marked, it is safe to begin digging around the marked areas.
Have the urge to plant something? Go ahead. Dig up a storm this spring. Just be sure to pick up the phone first.
Besides, if you are “that guy” who damaged a line and caused every home in the neighborhood to lose power or gas, you probably won’t be invited to any backyard barbecues this summer. And nobody wants that.