April set as ‘National Safe Digging Month’
Published 10:13 am Tuesday, April 19, 2022
In recognition of April as “National Safe Digging Month,” CenterPoint Energy urges customers to call 811 before beginning projects that require digging to prevent damage to essential underground utilities and keep communities safe. With warmer weather, outdoor projects begin such as gardening, building a fence, installing a mailbox or installing a pool. Before beginning the work, customers should request that the approximate location of buried utilities be marked with paint or flags to prevent unintentional digging into an underground utility line. Private-owned lines, such as sprinklers or lines serving outdoor appliances, are not marked by the utility.
CenterPoint Energy’s natural gas transmission and distribution business has been serving customers for more than a century, carrying natural gas used to heat homes and fuel appliances. According to Common Ground Alliance’s (CGA) 2021 omnibus study, an association dedicated to voicing best practices used to prevent damage to underground infrastructure, 49 percent of U.S. homeowners plan to dig this year without contacting 811 beforehand to learn the approximate location of underground utilities, putting themselves and their communities at risk.
“Utilizing 811 is the law in most states and required to properly locate all of the utilities prior to beginning digging projects,” said Shane Alexander, director of damage prevention for CenterPoint Energy. “Everyone is expected to use the 811 system and have utilities marked, regardless of how big or small you think the project is.”
As part of National Safe Digging Month, CenterPoint Energy encourages homeowners to take the following steps when planning a digging project this spring:
- Always contact 811 two to three days before digging, regardless of the depth or familiarity with the property.
- Plan ahead. Make a no-cost 811 request 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 line markings.
- If a contractor has been hired, confirm that the contractor has contacted 811. Don’t allow work to begin if the lines aren’t marked.
- Visit www.811beforeyoudig.com for complete information.
Customers calling 811 will be connected to a local one-call notification center that will take their information and communicate it 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 digging around the marked areas.
In the case of a hit pipeline, one should leave the area immediately. Once in a safe location, report the leak by calling the CenterPoint Energy utility emergency line at 1-888-876-5786.
Additional information about pipeline safety can be found at www.centerpointenergy.com/811.