Unitil, a provider of natural gas and electricity to customers in New England, is reminding customers and contractors that August 11 (8/11) is National 811 Safe Digging Day, an annual designation to increase awareness to call 811 before starting any digging or excavating projects.
“Even homeowners are required by law to call Dig Safe prior to digging in their yard, regardless of the size or scope of work,” Alec O’Meara, Unitil’s media manager, said. “The service is free and once someone calls 811, the utility companies will have representatives come out and mark underground electric wires and natural gas pipes. It is a critical step prior to beginning any digging project. It makes it much safer for the homeowner, contractors, and neighbors.”
According to Dig Safe, even simple do-it-yourself projects such as planting trees, installing mailboxes or posts for a fence require a call, so utilities can be marked.
“Homeowners who have not called, unfortunately hit wires and natural gas lines for the most basic projects causing utility service disruption to entire neighborhoods, harm to themselves or others, as well as fines and repair costs,” Lisa Powers, Dig Safe public relations director, said. “I can’t overstate for homeowners and contractors the importance of calling 811.”
Once the utilities are marked, homeowners will see different color flags on the ground according to Powers. Red flags are for electric power lines, cables and conduit. Yellow is for natural gas, oil or gaseous materials. Orange is for communication lines such as cable TV, alarm or signal lines. Blue is for water and irrigation. Green is for sewers and drain lines.
“The one caveat is for help identifying municipal services such as water and sewer lines, homeowners and contractors must contact the town or city directly,” added Powers.