Call 811 Before Digging into Outdoor Projects This Spring

Five Steps for Safe Digging

The weather is turning warmer, and spring is just around the corner! Before beginning any landscaping or outdoor projects that require digging, electric co-op members are reminded to call 811 to notify local utilities and have underground pipes and wires marked.

The national 811 “Call Before You Dig” phone number links residents to a local call center, which then dispatches local utility companies to mark underground utility lines, pipes and cables with paint or flags so you know what’s below. In North Carolina, residents should call at least 72 hours before beginning to dig.

By calling 811 before every project, residents can help save lives, avoid costly penalties from hitting underground lines and protect infrastructure. It’s important to know what’s below ground to prevent a potentially life-threatening mistake.

Once lines are marked, take extra care when planting around power lines and utility poles. Trees and shrubs that grow into power lines can not only cause outages and delay the restoration of power, they are also dangerous because they can become energized when in contact with power lines. If plants must be placed in the right-of-way, they should be a low-growing variety and should be planted at the edge of the right-of-way and not directly under the wires.

Leave utility workers room to access and safely work around pad-mount transformers, which look like big green boxes. Keep shrubs and structures 10 feet away from pad-mount transformer doors and 4 feet away from the other sides. Make sure plant roots don’t interfere with wires and buried cables.

Contact your electric cooperative for more information about proper planting and right-of-way maintenance.

For more information about safe digging and the “Call Before You dig” process, visit North Carolina’s 811 website at

Five Steps for Safe Digging