Our backyards are likely getting even more use than usual this summer. If you are doing any DIY yard projects, even small gardening projects, that involve digging, it’s important to familiarize yourself with safe digging practices.
Before doing any digging- call 811. 8-1-1 is a free, nationwide, coordination service that will mark the location of utilities up to the point where the lines make their initial connection to the home or service meter. 811 connects you to your area’s service center. The representative at 811 will contact your local utility company and within days, the utility company will be dispatched to your home.
This happens for ultimate safety because the call to 811 that coordinates the flag/marking service, helps identify your underground lines/pipes.
The spray paint and flag colors mean:
Communication, alarm or signal lines, cables, or conduit: Orange
Reclaimed water, irrigation, and slurry lines: Purple
Sewers and drain lines: Green
Gas, oil, steam, petroleum, or gaseous materials: Yellow
Proposed excavation: White
Temporary survey markings: Pink
Electric power lines, cables, conduit, and lighting cables: Red
State Rules for Calling 811
Each state has its own rules for digging. In all states, all projects that involve digging more than a foot deep, require a call to 811.
Smart digging means calling 811 before every job. With time, erosion and root structure growth can shift the locations of your utility lines, so it’s smart to call again each time.
Consideration should be given in this order: call 811, allow time for required markings, adhere to the marks, and dig carefully.
Check your notes to verify the locations of the pipe that were self-installed.
Make sure the appropriate equipment/tools for digging are available and accessible.
Keep your trenches or holes at least 18 inches away from 8-1-1 markings.
Dig slowly. Irrigation lines, landscape lighting conduits, and cables are not identified by 8-1-1.
Hiring a contractor to dig? Make sure they have the proper insurance. It’s even better if they are bonded. Bonding protects you if they fail to complete a job.
Here are a few myths that may be circulating around this topic:
Calling once means you never have to call again. You have to call each time.
Not digging deep so, no need to call 811.
Calling 811 costs money.
If a pipeline is hit, it’s ok, there’s nothing to worry about.
When you call 811 before you start digging, you can prevent unintended consequences like: injury to you or your family, damage to your property, utility service outages, and potential fines and repair costs.
About Jason Cass
I am the Co-Owner of The Insurance Alliance. I love to speak nationally on the topic of insurance and I am the author of "Customer Service is Just Foreplay" an Amazon Best Seller. I don't sell insurance, I help people buy it.