In observance of National Safe Digging Month in April, Fayetteville Public Utilities (FPU) announced results from a recent national survey.
The results revealed that 42 percent of homeowners who plan to dig this year for projects like landscaping, installing a fence or mailbox or building a deck, pond or patio and other DIY projects, will put themselves and their communities at risk by not calling 811 a few days beforehand to learn the approximate location of underground utilities.
Digging without knowing the approximate location of underground utilities can result in serious injuries, service disruptions and costly repairs when gas, electric, communications, water and sewer lines are damaged.
The national public opinion survey of homeowners conducted in March by the Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the national association dedicated to protecting underground utility lines, people who dig near them, and their communities, also revealed that nearly half of American homeowners who plan to dig this year will complete landscaping projects that require a call to 811 at least a few days prior to digging. The most popular planned projects cited among surveyed homeowners who plan to dig include planting a tree or shrub (47 percent); building a patio or deck (24 percent); building a fence (21 percent); and installing a mailbox (8 percent).
“Tens of millions of Americans plan to do DIY digging projects this year, but according to our survey, 42 percent of them admit that they will not call 811 beforehand, which puts homeowners and their communities at risk,” said FPU CEO/General Manager Britt Dye. “Calling 811 a few days before any planned home improvement projects that require digging – including common landscaping projects like planting trees and shrubs – is critical to preventing incidents like service outages and serious injuries.”
Some 1,700 members, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and most governors have proclaimed April as National Safe Digging Month to bring extra attention to the issue of underground utility line safety and reduce the risk of unnecessary infrastructure damage.
As part of National Safe Digging Month, FPU encourages homeowners to take the following steps when planning a digging project this spring: always call 811 a few days before digging, regardless of the depth or familiarity with the property; plan ahead and 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, and don’t allow work to begin if the lines aren’t marked; and finally, visit www.call811.com for complete info.
Everyone who calls 811 a few 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.