By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation
As we embark on spring and get ready to tackle many projects around the home or farm, it is important to call 811, at least a few days before you start any digging project. 811 serves as the common phone number used throughout the United States, which should be called before starting any digging project. This protocol ensures protection from unintentionally hitting underground utility lines. Whether you are planning to conduct a project yourself or hire a professional, calling 811 leads to smart and safe digging each and every time.
April is recognized by the underground utility damage prevention stakeholders as National Safe Digging Month. There are millions of miles of buried utilities beneath the surface of the earth that are vital to everyday living like water, electricity and natural gas. Disrupting these utilities can stop various utility services, as well as present serious safety hazards. The call before you dig process consists of 5 easy steps:
- Notify your local one call center by calling 811 (or making an online request) 2-3 days before work begins. This lead time may vary from state to state; therefore, visit call811.com to locate the rules for your state.
- Wait the required amount of time for affected utility operators to respond to your request.
- Confirm that all affected utility operators have responded to your request and marked underground utilities.
- Respect the marks or markers.
- Dig carefully around the marks with care.
TransCanada, a leader in the responsible development and reliable operation of North American energy infrastructure, is a proud partner of the Progressive Agriculture Foundation. Recently, TransCanada created an underground utilities safety module for youth, which focuses on two main objectives: The importance of calling 811 before you dig in the United States (and the importance of call or click before you dig in Canada) and pipeline leak recognition and response. The complete module, including curriculum, an interactive display, scratch & sniff cards and children’s activity booklets are available for coordinators use at their local Progressive Agriculture Safety Day®.
Kids love to dig, so it is never too early to teach them about 811 and the importance of safe digging. At Progressive Agriculture Safety Days® throughout North America, activities designed to reinforce underground utilities safety is taught using verbal, visual and hands-on learning opportunities. These safety tips are examples of what children & families learn when they attend a Safety Day. To date, more than 1.4 million children & adults have been impacted by a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® in their local community. Learn more about the program at www.progressiveag.org
Photo: At a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® held in Alabama, participants learn about underground utilities safety and the importance of calling 811 before you dig.