Sunday marks digging safety day

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North Carolina’s 811 hotline hopes Sunday’s date — 8/11 — will serve as a natural reminder for residents to call 811 prior to any digging project to have underground utility lines marked. Every nine minutes, an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without first calling 811. 

When calling 811, homeowners and contractors are connected to N.C. 811, the local one-call center, which notifies the appropriate utility companies of their intent to dig. Professional locators are then sent to the requested digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags, spray paint or both. 

Striking a single line can cause injury, repair costs, fines and inconvenient outages. Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a call to 811. Installing a mailbox, building a deck, planting a tree and laying a patio are all examples of digging projects that need a call to 811 before starting. 

“On Aug. 11 and throughout the year, we remind homeowners and professional contractors alike to call 811 before digging to help eliminate the risk of striking an underground utility line,” said Louis Panzer, executive director for N.C. 811, “It really is the only way to know which utilities are buried in your area.” 

The depth of utility lines can vary for a number of reasons, such as erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surfaces. Utility lines need to be properly marked because even when digging only a few inches, the risk of striking an underground utility line still exists. 

Visit www.nc811.org or www.call811.com for more information about 811 and safe digging practices.