BY CONNIE HOGUE, DIRECTOR OF HUMAN RESOURCES & SAFETY

April is National Safe Digging Month, an event that reminds excavators and homeowners to contact OHIO811 before digging to avoid injuries or fatalities that could result from striking a utility line. While this year started out cold and blustery, Punxsutawney Phil predicted spring is heading our way. As warmer weather moves into Ohio, it is the perfect time to remember why we call 811. Before you begin outdoor projects (landscaping, installing a fence, installing a new mailbox, or building a deck) it is essential to know where the underground utility lines are located. Don’t make a judgment call. Always contact OHIO811 before you dig.

WHY OHIO811?

Contacting OHIO811 is not only for your safety– it is also the law. An underground utility line is damaged once every six minutes in the United States. This is often because someone made the choice to dig before the underground utilities were marked. The Common Ground Alliance (CGA) association reports an estimated 439,000 excavation-related incidents that caused damage to underground facilities in 2017. This increased 5% from the previous year’s findings. Digging without knowing the approximate location of underground utilities can result in damage to gas, electric, communications, water, and sewer lines. This damage can lead to disruptions in service (something we try to avoid) but can also cause very serious injuries or death to the person digging. Experts predict approximately 38.6 million people will dig this year without first having underground utility lines marked. This is especially dangerous because the ground underneath us covers an incredible amount of buried utilities. There are more than 20 million miles of underground utility lines in the United States. That equates to more than one football field’s length (105 yards) of buried utilities for every man, woman, and child in our country. The Energy Cooperative maintains 1000 miles of natural gas distribution pipeline, 155 miles of natural gas transmission pipeline, and 742 miles of underground electric lines. Our lines could literally be in an area where you want to dig. Contacting OHIO811 gives us, and other utilities, the opportunity to show you where they are located before you dig.