April is National Safe Digging Month … Know What’s Below. Call Before You Dig

Wall, NJ - As part of National Safe Digging Month, New Jersey Natural Gas (NJNG) reminds homeowners and contractors – whoever is going to dig -- to call 811 at least three business days (not including the day the call is placed) prior to digging to ensure all underground utility lines are properly marked before breaking ground on spring outdoor projects. It’s FREE and it’s the LAW.

Careless digging can result in property damage, disruption of vital services and even possible injuries. In fact, nearly 60 percent of all incidents involving natural gas distribution pipelines are the result of excavation damage, according to the American Gas Association. And a survey by the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) found that 51 percent of homeowners who plan a project that requires digging will put themselves and communities at risk by not calling 811 ahead of time to learn the approximate location of underground utilities.

Remember, every digging project, regardless of depth, requires a free call to 811 at least three business days before it begins. The depth of utility lines can vary for a number of reasons and can be just a few inches below the surface. Therefore, it is important to call 811 and have utility lines properly marked because, even when digging only a few inches, the risk of striking an underground utility still exists.

When calling 811, property owners and contractors connect with New Jersey One Call, which notifies NJNG and other utility companies of their intent to dig. Professional locators then visit the dig site to mark the approximate location of the underground utility lines with flags and/or spray paint. A yellow flag indicates a natural gas service line. Once a site has been accurately marked, it is safe to begin digging away from the marked areas.

During National Safe Digging Month, NJNG and CGA encourage homeowners to take the following steps when planning a digging project this spring:

  • Always call 811 at least three business days, but not more than 10, prior to the start of digging, regardless of the depth of the dig or your familiarity with the property. Plan ahead. Call on Monday or Tuesday for work planned for the upcoming weekend.
  • Before digging, confirm all utilities have responded. Yellow indicates the presence of underground natural gas lines.
  • Respect all markings. Move the location of your project if it is near utility line markings.
  • Maintain all marks. Be mindful that inclement weather may wash away painted markings. (Consider taking photo of the marks prior to the beginning of your project.)
  • Dig with care – hand dig within two feet of marked underground utility lines.
  • Immediately report all damage to natural gas lines, no matter how minor, to NJNG at 800-GAS-LEAK (800-427-5325).

For additional information visit nj1-call.org or the My Safety section of njng.com.