This week when the calendar reads 8/11, electric cooperatives are encouraging members to call 811 at least three days before beginning any digging project to have underground utility lines marked. This free and simple step can reduce risk of injury, repair costs, fines and inconvenient outages.
According to North Carolina 811, every few minutes an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without first calling 811, and more damages occur in August than any other month. Even small digging projects, like installing a mailbox or planting a shrub, warrant an advanced call to 811.
“On Aug. 11 and throughout the year, electric cooperatives encourage members to dig safely by having underground utilities marked,” said Greg Puckett, executive vice president and general manager of Surry-Yadkin EMC and the electric cooperatives’ representative on North Carolina’s Underground Damage Prevention Review Board. “Every digging project requires a call.”
Homeowners and contractors can call 811 or file a request online to notify utility companies of their intent to dig. Professional locators then arrive at the digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags, spray paint or both. These marked lines show where it is – and isn’t – safe to break ground. Once lines are marked, digging should be carried out carefully around the marks, not on top of them.
“Calling NC 811 can save lives, and limit damage and extensive repairs. There is a lot of expense involved if underground lines — whether that be natural gas, fiber or electric — are cut, but even more important, everyone needs to understand the dangers of what could go wrong if they are cut.”