August 11 is almost here, and Westfield Gas + Electric hopes that the date on the calendar (8/11) will serve as a natural reminder for residents to call 811 at least 72 hours prior to any digging project. Summer is the peak time to work on home improvement projects, so it’s timelier than ever to remember to dig safely around underground utility lines.
“August 11th is a great reminder to homeowners and contractors to always call 811 before digging to reduce the risk of striking an underground utility line,” said Tom Flaherty, General Manager for Westfield Gas + Electric. “Hitting an underground line can be costly and dangerous. We want to spread the message that calling 811 is really the only way to know where utilities are buried so that you can dig safely.”
When calling 811, homeowners and contractors are connected to Dig Safe, the local one-call center, which notifies the appropriate utility companies of their intent to dig. (Requests can also be made online at www.digsafe.com.) Professional locators then arrive at the digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines at no cost to the customer with flags, spray paint or both.
Every few minutes, an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without first contacting 811. Striking a single line can cause serious injury, inconvenient outages, repair costs, and fines. With more people relying on their utilities for work and communication, inconvenient outages are important to avoid. Every digging project, no matter the size, warrants contacting 811 by phone or online. Installing a mailbox, building a deck, planting a tree and laying a patio are just some examples of projects that need a call to 811 before you begin.
The depth of utility lines can vary for several 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 or digging in a location that’s previously been marked, the risk of striking an underground utility line still exists. Be safe. Call 811 before you dig. It’s fast. It’s free. And it’s the law.
Visit call811.com or our Safety page for more information about 811 and safe digging practices. And join WG+E and the Westfield Starfires at Bullens Field on Sunday, August 8th, at 3:00 p.m. for “8-1-1 Day in the Ball Park”. Visit the WG+E tent for prizes and giveaways.