The 411 on 811

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It seems like every month has some sort of safety designation, and April is no different.  Not only is Distracted Driving Awareness Month being recognized across the country, but April is also designated as National Safe Digging Month.  The distinction hopes to raise awareness about the importance of always checking up on what types of lines run underground prior to conducting digging work.

Making sure that you’re not putting yourself at risk is a simple matter of calling 811 to have an underground utility locator come out to your residence and determine if the spot you plan to work on lies right above electric lines, gas lines, water pipes, sewage pipes, and more.  He or she will spray paint the appropriate color over the dangerous zone, and you’ll know exactly where you’re allowed to work.

This is an advisable step even on minor work, such as erecting a mailbox or planting a sapling that you hope will grow into a tree.  Consumer Reports explains the consequences of not checking up on underground infrastructure by relating the story of a Berkeley home and vehicle fire started last month when a worker’s pick axe struck a gas line and ignited a blaze.

Protect yourself by dialing 811.  If utility structures are discovered beneath your workspace, alter your plans to eliminate the danger.  And if you’re working with a contractor, verify that they have taken the same precautions.