A Free Call to 811 Will Help Keep You Safe and Avoid Expensive Repairs
Oakland, CA /PRNewswire/ - Tomorrow, Friday, Aug. 11, is recognized as National 811 Day, to raise awareness of the importance of making a free call to 811 before any digging project, large or small. Whether you are a property owner or a contractor, calling 811 will help ensure that projects involving digging can be done safely while avoiding expensive repairs or fines due to damaging underground utility lines.
Underground utility lines can be shallow, sometimes only a few inches below the surface, so it is important to call 811 before any project that involves digging, including building or replacing a fence, planting or landscaping, and beginning construction work.
When a call is placed to 811 and a request is made to have lines located and marked, a professional locator will come to your project site to mark the location of underground utility lines, including gas, electric, water, telecom and sewer, free of charge. Knowing where underground lines are buried while you are digging and following safe digging practices will help keep you and your family safe and connected to essential utility services.
In Pacific Gas and Electric Company's (PG&E) service area, lines have been damaged due to digging 776 times so far this year. In 58% of those cases, 811 wasn't called. And for residential customers, the percentage of those striking lines while digging who didn't call 811 is 90%. In addition, making a free call to 811 can also save you money, as damaging an underground line while digging leads to repair costs averaging $3,500.
"Customer and contractor safety is the main driver behind 811. There are considerable risks around digging without knowing where your lines are located. Striking an underground utility line while digging can be dangerous and lead to expensive repairs. Calling 811 is free, easy and fast. This important step will help keep customers, their family and neighbors safe," said Joe Forline, PG&E Senior Vice President, Gas Operations.
Warmer weather months see an increase in digging projects and a corresponding increase in the number of strikes to underground lines that have not been marked ahead of time. In fact, in 2023 throughout PG&E's service area of Northern and Central California:
- There have been 686 incidents where underground utility lines were damaged due to digging, and in 58% of incidents when an underground utility line was damaged due to digging, 811 was not called
- For homeowners specifically, that percentage rises to 90%
- The average cost to repair a damaged utility line is $3,500
- Leading causes of damages to underground utility lines while digging include: building or replacing a fence, gardening and landscaping, planting a tree or removing a stump, sewer and irrigation work and building a deck or patio
Calling 811 is Fast and Free
- Customers should call 811 a minimum of two business days before beginning any project that involves digging, no matter how large or small. Customers also can visit 811express.com to have underground utility lines marked for their project site.
- Professional utility workers for all utilities (gas, electric, water, sewer and telecommunications) will be dispatched to mark the location of all underground utility lines for the project site with flags, spray paint, or both
- The 811 call center serving Northern and Central California, USA North, is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and will provide Spanish and other translation services.
PG&E Safe Digging Tips
- Mark project area in white: Identify the digging location by drawing a box around the area using white paint, white stakes, white flags, white chalk or even white baking flour.
- Call 811 or submit an online request a minimum of two working days before digging: Be prepared to provide the address and general location of the project, project start date and type of digging activity. PG&E and other utilities will identify underground facilities in the area for free. Requests can be submitted a maximum of 14 days prior to the start of the project.
- Dig safely: Use hand tools when digging within 24 inches of the outside edge of underground lines. Leave utility flags, stakes or paint marks in place until the project is finished. Backfill and compact the soil.
- Be aware of signs of a natural gas leak: Smell for a "rotten egg" odor, listen for hissing, whistling or roaring sounds and look for dirt spraying into the air, bubbling in a pond or creek and dead/dying vegetation in an otherwise moist area. If you smell gas, call 911 and then call PG&E at 800-743-5000.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation, is a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit pge.com and pge.com/news.