Indiana 811 reminds Hoosiers to call before digging during DIY projects

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With more springlike weather set to return to Indiana this weekend, Indiana 811 is reminding Hoosiers across the state to make a free call before digging to protect themselves from potentially dangerous underground utility lines.

Many homeowners will take the risk of digging without knowing the location of buried utility lines, either because they aren’t aware of the 811 service, or think it doesn’t apply to DIY projects.

Surveys reveal nearly 40% of homeowners who plan to dig this year will put themselves and others at risk by not calling 811 before starting

Making a free call to Indiana 811, or visiting before digging for home improvement projects – including landscaping or installing a mailbox – can prevent damage to underground utility lines.

In observance of National Safe Digging Month in April, Indiana 811 has announced results from a recent national survey.

Those results revealed that 36% of homeowners who plan to dig this year for projects like landscaping, installing a fence or mailbox, or building a deck, pond or patio and other DIY projects, will put themselves and their communities at risk by not contacting 811 at least two full working days beforehand to learn the approximate location of underground utilities.

Digging without knowing the location of underground utilities can result in serious injuries, service disruptions and costly repairs when gas, electric, communications, water and sewer lines are damaged.

The national public opinion survey of homeowners conducted in February by the Common Ground Alliance, the national association dedicated to protecting underground utility lines, people who dig near them, and their communities, also revealed that 47% of homeowners who plan to dig this year have no experience with the 811 ‘call before you dig’ process. The most popular planned projects cited among surveyed homeowners include:

  • Planting a tree or shrub (63%)
  • Building a fence (35%)
  • Building a patio or deck (28%)
  • Installing a mailbox (16%)

“Tens of millions of Americans plan to do DIY digging projects this year, but according to our survey, 36 percent of them admit that they will not contact 811 beforehand, which puts homeowners and their communities at risk,” said Chuck Muller, Director of Member and Public Relations for Indiana 811. “Contacting 811 a few days before any planned home improvement projects that require digging –like installing a mailbox or planting a tree – is critical to preventing incidents like service outages and serious injuries.”

As part of National Safe Digging Month, Indiana 811 encourages homeowners to take the following steps when planning a digging project this spring:

  • Always contact Indiana 811 by phone at 811 or online at at least two full working days prior to digging, regardless of the depth or familiarity with the property.
  • Plan ahead. Call on Monday or Tuesday for work planned for an upcoming weekend, providing ample time for the approximate location of lines to be marked.
  • Confirm that all lines have been marked.
  • Consider moving the location of your project if it is near utility line markings.
  • If a contractor has been hired, confirm that a call to Indiana 811 at 811 or online request at has been made.
  • Visit for complete info.

An underground utility line is damaged once every nine minutes nationwide because someone decided to dig without first calling 811, according to industry data collected by CGA.

There are more than 20 million miles of underground utilities in the United States, per data compiled by CGA from various industry groups.

That figure equates to more than one football field’s length (105 yards) of buried utilities for every man, woman and child in the U.S.

Everyone who contacts Indiana 811 at 811 or at least two full working days prior to digging is connected to a local one call notification center that will take the information provided and communicate it to local utility companies.

Professional locators will then visit the dig site to mark the approximate location of underground utility lines with spray paint, flags or both.

Once a site has been accurately marked, it is safe to begin digging around the marked areas.

Indiana 811 is a one-call notification center that notifies member utility owners of a contractor’s or homeowner’s proposed excavation plans.

For more information about Indiana 811, click here.

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(This story was originally published on April 17, 2018)

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