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A national public opinion survey of homeowners conducted by the Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the national association dedicated to protecting underground utility lines, people who dig near them, and their communities, revealed that nearly half of all American homeowners are planning to complete landscaping projects that require a call to 811 at least a few days prior to digging.

In observance of National Safe Digging Month in April, Westfield Gas + Electric wants to remind residents that digging without knowing the approximate location of underground utilities can result in serious injury, service disruptions and costly repairs when gas, electric, communications, water and sewer lines are damaged.

“Tens of millions of Americans plan to work on projects this year which require digging. But according to the CGA survey, 42 percent of them admit that they will not call 811 beforehand and this puts homeowners and their communities at risk,” said Tony Contrino, General Manager at Westfield Gas + Electric. “Calling 811 a few days before your projects that require digging – including planting trees and shrubs, building a patio, deck, or fence, or installing a mailbox – is critical to preventing service outages and serious injuries.”

April has been set aside as National Safe Digging Month to bring extra attention to the issue of underground utility line safety and to reduce the risk of unnecessary infrastructure damage.

As part of National Safe Digging Month, Westfield Gas + Electric encourages homeowners to take the following steps when planning a digging project this spring:

  • Always call 811 at least 72 hours before digging, regardless of the depth or familiarity with the property.
  • Plan ahead. Call on Monday or Tuesday for work planned for an upcoming weekend, providing ample time for the approximate location of lines to be marked.
  • Confirm that all lines have been marked.
  • Consider moving the location of your project if it is near utility line markings.
  • If a contractor has been hired, confirm that the contractor has called 811. Don’t allow work to begin if the lines aren’t marked.
  • Visit www.call811.com for complete info.

Everyone who calls 811 three days before digging is connected to a local one call notification center that will take the caller’s information and communicate it to local utility companies. Professional locators will then visit the dig site to mark the approximate location of underground utility lines with spray paint, flags or both. Once a site has been accurately marked, it is safe to begin digging around the marked areas.

About the study

SSRS conducted a national omnibus phone study between March 5-10, 2019, on behalf of CGA. A total of 648 American homeowners ages 18+ were asked for their opinions on home and property improvement project topics. The survey had a margin of error of +/- 3.85% at the 95 percent confidence level.