Know What’s Underground, Before Any Digging Goes Down

2018 T-shirt Design (English)By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

As the snow melts revealing a ground ready for planting, many eager homeowners are gearing up to start those outdoor digging projects. However, before you reach for that shovel, remember to call 811, the national call-before-you-dig number, to ensure that your buried utility lines are marked.

Did you know failure to call 811 before digging results in damage to a buried utility once every nine minutes across the United States? For the tenth consecutive year, National Safe Digging Month is celebrated in April, as it symbolizes the start of many spring digging projects. Installing a new mailbox, building a deck, and planting a tree or garden may seem like a simple task, but still warrants a call to 811. The call before you dig process is both free and simple, consisting of 5 steps:

  1. 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 to locate the rules for your state.
  2. Wait the required amount of time for affected utility operators to respond to your request.
  3. Confirm that all affected utility operators have responded to your request and marked underground utilities.
  4. Respect the marks or markers.
  5. Dig carefully around the marks with care.

Since children are curious and love to dig, it is never too early to teach them about the importance of safe digging. At Progressive Agriculture Safety Days®, activities and demonstrations are designed to reinforce underground utilities safety using verbal, visual and hands-on learning opportunities. Thanks to a unique partnership with our 5-star sponsor, TransCanada, a leader in the responsible development and reliable operation of North American energy infrastructure, this topic has been propelled to the forefront with an Underground Utilities Safety Module. The module 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 and scratch & sniff cards are available for use at all Progressive Agriculture Safety Days® throughout North America. Additionally, other partners with the Common Ground Alliance and Pipeline Operators for Ag Safety helped spotlight our program and many of these vital safety tips at the Peterson Bros. Farm Tour held on 8-11-2017 in Assaria, Kansas.

Remember, for all digging projects large or small, be sure to start with an important call!

To date, more than 1.6 million children & adults have been reached by a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® in their local community. Learn more about the program by calling 888-257-3529 or visiting You can help send another child to a Safety Day with a modest donation of only $13. Donate by texting the word “safetyday” to 41444 or visit

Photo: All Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® participants receive a free t-shirt and this year’s t-shirt design theme, “Know What’s Underground – Before Any Digging Goes Down,” will highlight messaging around the importance of calling 811 or clicking before you dig. The messaging on the t-shirts will continue educating others long after the Safety Day concludes.