In almost every case, these accidents can be avoided with a simple call. Even when digging only a few inches, the risk of striking an underground utility line still exists.
“We’re really stepping up our damage prevention efforts this year,” said Nick Stavropoulos, Executive Vice President of Gas Operations at PG&E. “In 2013 alone, there more than 2,000 incidents of damages to our gas and electric lines as a result of unsafe digging practices. Calling 8-1-1 before you dig shows a commitment to safety and your community.”
Whether the project is commercial construction with heavy excavating equipment, a residential fence installation or even a backyard spring planting project, calling 8-1-1 two business days prior to digging enhances public safety. Callers are connected to a local call center, which notifies the appropriate utility companies—such as PG&E— of the intent to dig.
Professional locators are then sent to the requested digging site to mark the locations of underground lines. Once lines have been accurately marked, hand digging can begin around marked lines.
For more information about 8-1-1 and safe digging practices, visit www.pge.com/digsafely.
In keeping with the spirit of National Safe Digging Month, PG&E offers these tips for safe excavation:
- Call 8-1-1 at least 2 working days before and up to 14 calendar days in advance of an excavation or digging project.
- Customers will receive a list of notified utilities that may have underground lines in the area. If you believe a utility may not have marked its lines, call 8-1-1 again.
- On paved surfaces, mark the proposed excavation area with white chalk-based paint. Homeowners can also use other white substances such as sugar or flour.
- On unpaved surfaces use flags or stakes to mark the proposed excavation area.
- Carefully hand excavate within 24 inches on either side of a utility-marked facility. Digging even a few inches can pose some risks of striking a utility line.
- Be careful not to erase facility marks—that were indicated by the professional locator— while working. If you cannot see the markings, call 8-1-1 and request a remarking.
- 8-1-1 requests are active for 28 days. Call 8-1-1 if work continues beyond that time.
- Immediately notify utilities about any type of contact or damage to wires or pipes.
- If there is any damage to PG&E electric wires or gas pipelines, or if there is a possible gas leak, take these steps: Move to a safe location, Call 9-1-1, and Call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000.