30 Jan Tiny Person, Big Shovel – Call 811
Leafing through a Southwest Magazine on a recent flight, I was surprised but happy to see an “811 – Know What’s Below, Call Before You Dig” advertisement.
It featured a small, young girl with a big shovel in her hand. Yes she’s adorable, however, I’m not sure she could really lift that shovel, let alone dig a hole!
Regardless, “She’s Ready to Dig!” got my attention.
The 811 call center is the pipeline construction industry’s go-to for all underground utilities including water, gas, electric, cable and telecommunications. Prior to digging for any construction project – be it transmission line foundations or underground pipeline construction, dialing 811 is standard procedure.
Source: Southwest Magazine
Why take the time to make the call? Because there are more than 20 million miles of pipes and cables buried underground in the USA, and “every six minutes an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without first calling 811. Striking a single line can cause injury, repair costs, fines and inconvenient outages. Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a call to 811. Installing a mailbox, building a deck and planting a tree or garden are all examples of digging projects that should only begin after a call to 811” according to the Common Ground Alliance (CGA).
As demonstrated in the graph below published by CGA, homeowners and farmers have many more incidences of hitting an underground utility compared to professional excavators in the “notification not made” category, which simply means they failed to call 811 before digging.
On CGA’s website there are interactive tools, a list of local contacts, and safety procedures to help those in the construction industry and individual farmer/homeowners know what the rules are. For instance, after dialing 811, a local call center is patched through and notifies the appropriate utility of the intent to dig. Then, professional locators are dispatched to the site and begin marking the locations of underground lines.
It also makes sense to raise awareness among those not in the construction industry, and having 811 ads in mainstream publications is a good place to start. This cute little girl may be small, but she sure looks determined – and who knows how much damage she could do if she could really lift that shovel!
The take away is: when homeowners and professionals alike make the 811 call, they are taking an important first step that can help keep them and their communities safe and connected. CGA encourages area residents to visit call811.com or call 811 for more information about digging safely.