April is National Safe Digging Month
Spring is in the air bringing with it the scent of wildflowers and freshly cut grass, the return of outdoor family activities and that strange urge to dig. But before you get your fingers dirty, be safe and Call 811.
April is National Safe Digging Month when, according to Call 811, some 31 million homeowners will undertake home improvement projects that involve digging. Yet more than 11 million people will risk their safety and that of their neighbors by digging without knowing what is below.
“Underground power lines and natural gas systems are often buried close to the surface, plus buried objects shift over time,” said Brian Clark, vice president, Gas Operations. “You might be surprised to learn that you need to call us before planting something small, like a bush or tree, but it’s worth it to be safe. Striking a natural gas pipeline is extremely dangerous and we want you, our customers, to remain safe.”
PSE&G urges contractors, excavators and customers to call 811 before digging to help prevent natural gas emergencies. When an individual calls 811 to request a free, utility markout, they must wait three business days for the utility company to properly mark underground lines with paint and flags. The markout is valid for 45 business days.
Digging before knowing the location of underground pipes and cables can result in serious injuries, utility disruption, costly repairs and environmental or property damage. In 2021, PSE&G responded to 884 calls concerning excavation damages (713 gas, 171 electric). The best way to prevent damaging underground equipment is to call 811 before any digging project this spring and to use caution around marked facilities.
Prevention is key:
- Calling 811 before digging reduces the chances of damaging an underground line to less than 1%.
- Underground gas and electric lines are everywhere, even on private properties. These facilities can be easily damaged by excavation work.
- Whether the job is a major home improvement project or something as simple as a fence or mailbox post, a call to 811 must be placed beforehand to determine where it’s safe to dig. It’s the law.
- Call 811 at least three business days before the commencement of each job to have underground pipes, wires and equipment located. Each facility owner must respond by providing the excavator with a positive confirmation indicating that marks are in place where utility lines are buried or that there are no existing facilities in the area of the proposed work. This service is free of charge.
- Be sure to wait until all utilities have responded. Don’t dig until lines have been marked or you have received confirmation that the area is clear of facilities.
- Property owners must maintain and respect the marks. Always hand dig within 2 feet of marked lines to find the existing facilities before using mechanized equipment.
What to do if you smell gas:
- Leave the building as quickly as possible and move 350-feet away from the structure. Take all others with you. If you smell gas outside, move well away from where you suspect the gas is leaking.
- Call PSE&G immediately at 1-800-880-PSEG (7734) and call 911. (Do NOT call from inside the building. Wait until you are outside and a safe distance to call.)
Public Service Electric & Gas Co. (PSE&G) is New Jersey’s oldest and largest gas and electric delivery public utility, serving three-quarters of the state’s population. PSE&G is the winner of the ReliabilityOne Award for superior electric system reliability in the Mid-Atlantic region. In 2021, PSE&G was named the most trusted combined gas & electric utility in the East Region, by the Cogent Syndicated Brand Trust Index. PSE&G is a subsidiary of Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. (PSEG) (NYSE:PEG), a diversified energy company. PSEG has been named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for North America for 14 consecutive years (www.pseg.com).