Call before you dig: August 11 marks National 811 Day

KENNEWICK, Wash. — Every few minutes, an underground utility line is damaged nationwide, according to Cascade Natural Gas (CNG), a company that serves nearly 100 communities in Oregon and Washington.

That’s why calling before you dig is not only important — but it’s the law.

August 11 marks National 811 Day, a “natural reminder for residents to call 811 prior to any digging project to have underground utility lines marked,” a CNG news release said.

CNG Spokesman Mark Hanson said some statistics show “lines being hit 100 times a day across the country.”

The impact this can cause ranges from damaging your home to entire neighborhoods, depending on what kind of line you hit.

For natural gas or electricity, Hanson said you could be seriously injured or even electrocuted.

“Those lines can be at any variable depth into the ground and they can change over time with erosion,” Hanson said. “You can never be too sure of the depth so it’s always important to know where they’re located.”

That’s where calling 811 comes in as that number sends a worker to locate all of your underground utilities for free.

“It’s very important to know where those things are so that when you’re digging, you don’t hit those lines,” Hanson said.

It doesn’t matter if the project is big or small either, from installing fences and mailboxes to planting a tree.

“It’s still so important for that to be top of mind,” Hanson said.

Plus, repairs could take hours, days, or even longer.

Striking a single line can cause injury, major costs, fines, and inconvenient outages, the release said.

“On Aug. 11 and throughout the year, we remind homeowners and professional contractors alike to call 811 before digging to eliminate the risk of striking an underground utility line,” said Mike Schoepp, Director of Operation Services at Cascade Natural Gas. “Relying on important utilities to connect us and keep us safe at home, calling 811 is really the only way to know which utilities are buried in your area so that you dig safely.”

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National Call 811 Day: Call before you dig