Dial 811 Before You Dig

8-1-1 is an N-1-1 telephone number in Canada and the United States. In Canada, the number is used for non-urgent health services. In the United States, 8-1-1 provides a standardized national phone number to access local utility location services. Utility location is the procedure of identifying and labeling public utility mains that are underground. These mains could comprise lines for telecommunication, electricity distribution, natural gas, cable television, fiber optics, traffic lights, street lights, storm drains, water mains, and wastewater pipes. In several locations, major oil and gas pipelines, national defense communication lines, mass transit, rail and road tunnels also compete for space underground.

In March 2005, the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made 8-1-1 the universal number for the 71 regional services that manage location services for underground public utilities in the U.S. Before that point, each of these “call before you dig” services had its own 800 number, and the FCC and others wanted to make it as painless as possible for each one planning an excavation to call first.

This safety measure not only helps avoid the harm that interrupts telecommunications, but also the cutting of subterranean power lines, water mains, and natural gas pipes. Underground utilities are located via color-coded markings normally up to and not past the user’s service connection or meter. Lines on the other area of the meter or service connection are considered to be part of the customer’s property and will typically not be located by these services. Establishment of an abbreviated dialing number, for this reason, was necessary by the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2002.

The use of 8-1-1 for “call before you dig” services was long established in California and Nevada, through an organization known as Underground Service Alert, before the FCC mandated its use for this reason.

Before 2005, the FCC had never officially assigned 8-1-1 for any service but did not stop its use either. Conventionally, 8-1-1 has been a direct line to the business office of the telephone company providing service on the line.

811 is the phone number you dial before digging to protect yourself and others from unintentionally hitting underground utility lines. 811 is the federally designated call before you dig number that helps homeowners and professionals avoid damaging these essential utilities. When you make the free call to 811 a few days before you dig, you’ll help prevent accidental consequences such as injury to you or your family, damage to your property, utility service outages to the whole neighborhood and potential fines and repair costs.

Call 811 from anywhere in the country a few days prior to digging, and your call will be routed to your local one call center. Inform the operator where you’re planning to dig. Your affected local utility companies will be informed regarding your purpose to dig and will send locators to your dig site to mark the approximate location of buried lines with flags or paint.

Make sure to always excavate watchfully around the marks, not on them. Some utility lines may be buried at a shallow depth, and an unintended shovel thrust can bring you right back to square one – facing potentially dangerous and/or costly consequences.

The Utility Notification Center is the one-call agency devoted to safeguarding citizens and construction personnel who work around utilities, as well as safeguarding the underground infrastructure of pipes, mains, and lines which bring utilities to your community.

Calling before starting any excavation prevents damage to underground facilities, service interruptions & bodily injury.

The Utility Notification Center is open 24 hours a day, every day.  Calling before you dig ensures that any publicly owned underground facilities will be marked according to the APWA color code so that you can dig safely.

Miss Utility (One Call, 811 or Call Before You Dig) is a typical way for homeowners and businesses to recognize underground utilities in urban and suburban areas. Miss Utility is one name for the new federally-mandated “Call Before You Dig” service.  It is also called as “One Call” or simply “Call 811.”  The number 811 is the national number to call if you don’t know the Call Before You Dig or Miss Utility number for your local or state area.

The 811 system is a free service that was ongoing to help homeowners and contractors avoid hitting and breaking buried utilities during digging activities, such as planting a tree or building a deck.

Homeowners and contractors must call the 811 number a few days prior to digging to be certain that the local utility companies have time to mark their utilities before the homeowner or the contractor begins digging.  Waiting some days for the mark outs, prior to digging, will guard you against personal injury, interruptions in utility services, and expenses for repairs to damaged utility lines.

The restriction with the 811 system is that the free service does not apply to utilities that are on private property.  Private utility lines are buried utilities that are located on common or private property between the meter and a home or a commercial building.

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