Thursday, August 11, 2016

Hold that shovel, belay that backhoe!

Gardening, excavating, constructing or digging? Today, August 11 (8/11) is National 811 Day, a reminder that you should always call 811 before doing any digging in order to have your underground utilities marked and prevent hitting a gas or electric line. Don’t go BOOM!

811. It’s a number you should know by heart. National 811 Day – or National Call 811 Before You Dig Day – reminds the public that calling 811 before you or your contractor begin any project that involves digging helps prevent damage to underground utilities such as gas, electric, cable and water lines and keeps residents, neighbors and communities safe.

The leading cause of natural gas pipeline accidents – almost 60 percent – is damage from excavation or construction. Some consequences can include devastating gas pipeline explosions – leveling houses, damaging neighborhoods or businesses, causing injuries and even resulting in fatalities.

Many of us are eager and can’t wait to break ground to start outdoor projects such as building fences, planting trees, putting in a patio or building home additions. But do we know what’s under the ground where we plan to dig? Natural gas pipelines and other utility lines weave beneath the surface throughout our community. Major gas pipelines are marked with a yellow caution sign. But secondary lines aren’t as easily identifiable. So don’t risk hitting a gas line, disrupting neighborhood service, and facing potential fines and repair costs. Before you begin digging, remember to contact Tennessee One Call at 811 to request that a professional locating crew mark the underground utility lines on your property. The service is free, and it’s the law!

Also, don’t forget to allow 72 hours (excluding weekends and holidays) or three business days for your utility lines to be located and marked before you commence your project. You should be able to see the underground lines marked on your property with painted lines. If you don’t see them, call 811 again to check in on the status of your “locate.” You don’t want to start digging if your underground utilities haven’t been marked.

Stay safe! Don’t go BOOM! by hitting an underground gas line. That’s what National Call 811 Day is all about. The safety of you, your family and your community is at stake. Tell your friends and family; use social media or text to let them know to always call 811 before digging.

If the unthinkable happens and you or your contractor do hit or damage a utility or gas line in the process of excavation, you should immediately stop digging and call MLGW. Remember that natural gas smells like rotten eggs. If you smell this strong odor, you and other residents should evacuate the area right away and call MLGW’s emergency line (528-4465) and 911. Know what actions to take and what not to do in a gas emergency by going to MLGW’s website at or the direct link: or And always call 811 before you dig!

National 811 Day is promoted by the Common Ground Alliance (CGA), an association dedicated to ensuring public safety, environmental protection and the integrity of services by promoting effective damage prevention practices. More CGA information can be found at

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