New York 811 urges homeowners and contractors to safely dig around homes during national safe digging month

New York 811 urges homeowners and contractors to safely dig around homes during national safe digging month
811 employee draws out red markings to identify electric utility lines that lie beneath the ground. For identifying utilities under grass, colored flags are used. (Courtesy of New York 811)

For contractors, utility operators, homeowners, gardeners and landscapers, digging around homes where utility and service lines could be is dangerous and potentially costly. 

During April, National Safe Digging Month, New York 811 urges community members to call 811 before putting shovels in the ground or beginning any project that requires digging or excavation.

By calling New York 811, areas, where digging will occur, will be checked by utility companies and areas where underground water, gas, electric, telecommunication and sewer lines are located are marked with different color paint or flags.

With this information, projects include planting trees, water sprinkler installations, gardening, landscaping, pool installations or other similar activities can be done safely. 

 Earth Day and Arbor Day both take place in the month of April.

On these days, people often plant trees, clean up properties and focus on protecting the environment. When planting trees near homes and close to streets and sidewalks, contacting New York 811 at least two business days before digging begins will help to ensure safety.

Those who plan on planting trees on Arbor Day this year should submit requests by Wednesday, April 18. 

“April is a time when temperatures increase and spring home improvement and projects that involve digging begin. Although people may think digging is safe around their properties and homes, they may not know that utility and service lines lie just beneath the surface. 

Even if excavating has been previously done, factors such as erosion, settling ground and other natural elements can shift the depth and location of utilities over time,” said Roger Sampson, executive director of New York 811. “In the United States, every nine minutes an underground utility line is damaged. We remind everyone to contact us at New York 811 and we will alert the utility operators so they can mark where their utility line is buried. This will make sure areas are marked and safe to dig.”   

Failing to call 811 raises the risk and potential for accidents and damage to buried lines. When underground gas, electric, power, water and other service lines are hit or damaged, major disruptions and outages can occur. 

There is also the potential for serious injuries and financial implications. Many don’t know that utility and power lines can be buried just inches below the surface.  

New York 811, Inc. is a non-profit organization that acts as the communications link between utility companies and contractors, individuals, private excavation companies and other utilities that are planning any digging activity in the five boroughs of New York City and Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island.

New York 811 provides services and programs that play a critical role in protecting one of the largest populated, congested and complicated underground infrastructures in the nation.  

 All calls to New York 811 and services offered to the public are free of charge; there is no fee to have areas marked by utility companies.

The team at New York 811 urges individuals and contractors to call at least 2-10 business days before the project begins to ensure all safety measures are in place. If unsure about areas being checked or marked, a follow-up call should be made to New York 811 before digging begins.

For further information about National safe Digging Month, New York 811 or other questions you may have about digging, please visit their website.    



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