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Be careful where you dig — call first

In observance of National Safe Digging Month, Miss Utility/District One Call — the one-call notification center for Maryland and Washington, D.C. — reminds homeowners and contractors that safe digging must remain a priority to prevent damage to critical utility services.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and as homeowners are spending more time than ever at home, utilizing Miss Utility/District One Call’s free-of-charge essential public safety service by calling 811 or placing an online request before digging will help residents avoid making circumstances worse by accidentally damaging buried utility lines, according to a Miss Utility press release.

April marks the start of the busy spring digging season, and many homeowners are finding themselves with more time at home to begin home improvement projects that require digging, such as landscaping or installing a mailbox, deck or fence. Digging without knowing the approximate location of underground utilities can result in serious injuries, service disruptions and costly repairs when gas, electric, communications, water and sewer lines are damaged.

“During these unprecedented times, it’s crucial to keep in mind the importance of keeping the public safe and connected to critical utility services in all situations,” Dora Parks, manager of client relations at Miss Utility/District One Call, said in the press release. “Calling 811 or making a request online at two full working days before any planned home improvement projects that require digging — including common springtime projects like planting trees or installing mailboxes or fences — is a free service and is critical to preventing incidents like service outages and serious injuries.”

Everyone in Maryland and Washington, D.C., who makes the free call to 811 or makes a free request online at two working days before digging is connected to Miss Utility/District One Call. After collecting information about the digging project, Miss Utility communicates that information to local utility companies. Professional locators will then visit the dig site to mark the approximate location of underground utility lines with spray paint, flags or both. Once a site has been accurately marked, it is safe to begin hand digging.

Take the following steps when planning any projects involving digging:

• Always call 811 or make a request online at a few days before digging, regardless of the depth or familiarity with the property.

• Plan ahead. Call on Monday or Tuesday for work planned for an upcoming weekend, providing ample time for the approximate location of lines to be marked.

• Confirm that all lines have been marked.

• Consider moving the location of your project if it is near utility lines.

• If a contractor has been hired, confirm that the contractor has called 811. Don’t allow work to begin if the lines aren’t marked.

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