“Call Before You Dig” to Prevent Underground Utility Damage

Calendar with thumbtack on 811 Day (Aug. 11)

Every few minutes an underground utility line is damaged due to the failure to “call before you dig.”

Utility lines that supply homes and businesses with power, heat, water, gas and more are often buried close to the surface, making any type of digging dangerous if you do not know where lines are located.

That’s where NC 811 comes in. This fast, free service helps to locate utility lines on a property by notifying utility companies of excavation requests. From there, utilities will send locators out to mark buried lines, enabling a safe digging process for all involved.

“It is imperative to notify 811 before any digging project, no matter how large or small, to reduce the risk of damaging an underground utility line or causing harm to others,” said Jake Joplin, CEO & General Manager at Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative who represents electric co-ops on North Carolina’s Underground Damage Prevention Review Board. “Cooperatives are proud to support this effort on 811 Day, and every day, because the safety of our members and employees is always our top priority.”

Although 811 Day only comes around once a year, it serves as the annual reminder to “call before you dig” – a message to be shared year-round.

Every Aug. 11, cooperatives and utilities across the country raise awareness of the importance of calling before you dig to prevent injuries and avoid costly damage to underground utility lines.

The 811 process is simple:

  • Contact 811 either by phone or online.
  • Wait the required time. North Carolina law requires you to wait three full working days before digging.
  • Once all lines are marked with stakes, flags or paint, remember to respect the marks. Each utility will mark lines in a designated color.
  • Always dig with care. Be aware of the tolerance zone, which is 24 inches on either side of the marked utility and use extreme caution if you must dig within this zone.

From planting a tree to installing a mailbox, a call should be placed to 811 before every digging project, no matter how large or small.

NC 811, a nonprofit organization, was founded in 1978. Electric cooperatives and other utilities help fund the organization, making it a free service for members and customers across North Carolina. For more information about the safe digging process, visit nc811.org.