CEDAR RAPIDS – With August 11 almost here, Alliant Energy hopes this date on the calendar, 8/11, will serve as a natural reminder for everyone to call 811 before they dig. Calling 811 helps prevent potentially dangerous accidents involving buried utility lines like natural gas, electric, and internet.
Every year across the country, thousands of people dig into a buried natural gas line or other underground lines. Striking a line can result in injury, repair costs, fines and inconvenient outages to the person digging and their neighbors. Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a call to 811.
Installing a mailbox, building a deck, planting a tree, and laying a patio are all examples of digging projects that require a call to 811 before starting. A national report recently found that small fencing, irrigation and landscaping contractors were most often involved in digging incidents. Often, it was from a failure to call 811 before starting work.
“On Aug. 11 and throughout the year, we remind homeowners and professional contractors to call 811 before digging. This single act helps to eliminate the risk of striking an underground utility line,” said Richard Sublett, sr. manager compliance and operational performance for Alliant Energy. “It really is the only way to know what utilities are buried in your area.”
When a customer calls 811, area utilities are notified. They will send professional locators to the digging site. Once on scene, locators mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags and or paint.
The depth of utility lines can vary for a number of reasons, such as erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surfaces. Utility lines need to be properly located and marked because some utility lines can be found just inches below the surface.
Call at least 48 hours before starting a digging project. When you start to dig, stay at least 18 inches away from the marked lines. Carefully hand dig if within this zone. Distance requirements vary by state, so ask for guidelines when calling 811.
Visit alliantenergy.com/call811 for more information about 811 and safe digging practices, you can also view a special video produced by the U.S. Department of Transportation, “Avoid a Grimm Situation.”