April is National Safe Digging Month, and PSEG Long Island is reminding customers, contractors, and excavators to call before digging to avoid hitting underground pipelines, conduits, wires, and cables. To make it easy to call, 811 has been designated as the national dialing code to have underground lines located and marked.
Dialing 811 in our area automatically connects the caller to the local New York one-call center, which collects information about digging projects. The one-call center then provides the information to the utility companies, who will send representatives to mark the locations of underground lines in the immediate vicinity of the planned work location with flags, paint, or both. Once lines have been properly marked and confirmation from all of the utility owners is received, excavators may proceed with their work, using caution around the marked areas.
Every digging project, even a small project like planting a tree or building a deck, requires a call to 811. It’s the law. The call must be made whether the job is being performed by a professional or a do-it-yourselfer. Striking a single line can cause serious injury, outages, and result in repair costs and fines.
Here’s important information to consider:
- Underground gas and electric lines are everywhere, even on private properties. These facilities can be easily damaged if dug into, with the potential to cause serious injuries. Digging into these lines also can disrupt the vital utility services and result in costly delays, expensive repairs, and environmental or property damage.
- Whether planning a major home-improvement project or installing something as simple as a fence or mailbox post, a call must be placed beforehand to determine where it’s safe to dig.
- Call 811 at least two business days before the commencement of each job to have underground pipes, wires, and equipment located. Each facility owner must respond by providing the excavator with a positive confirmation indicating that marks are in place where utility lines are buried or that there are no existing facilities in the area of the proposed work. This service is free of charge.
- Be sure to wait until all of the utilities have responded. Don’t dig until lines have been marked or you have received confirmation that the area is clear of facilities.
- Property owners must maintain and respect the marks. Always hand dig within 2 feet of marked lines to find the existing facilities before using mechanized equipment.
- If gas lines are damaged or there is a gas smell when excavating, call 911 immediately from a safe area.
Calling before you dig is more than a good idea — it’s the law. Additional information, including a damage prevention booklet on safe excavating practices and the protection of underground facilities, can be found at NewYork-811.com.