PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Today is Aug. 11. Numerically, it’s 8-1-1, which is significant to utility and communications companies and safety officials because those are the digits too few of us dial before starting a project that requires digging in the yard.

Calling 811 before digging isn’t just a suggestion, it’s the law, and it could save you from cutting off critical services and keep you safe from injury.

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“Every six minutes, a utility line is damaged in the United States, and you really don’t think about it unless it happens to you. Unless you’re the guy on Super Bowl Sunday who can’t watch the game. Unless it’s 110 degrees outside and you have no power,” Common Ground Alliance’s Khrysanne Kerr said.

“It’s surprising how many people forget to have utilities marked if they’re going to be digging in their yard. It simply requires dialing 811 and allowing three days to have the company come out and mark your utilities,” Angie’s List Founder, Angie Hicks said.

A recent survey says nearly half of all American homeowners are planning an outdoor project this year, but many of them have no plans to call 811 first, exposing themselves to injury, liability and hefty fines.

“By notifying that utility, they will come out and mark the approximate location with paint or flags and therefore, you can stay away from your buried electric lines, your natural gas line or that fiber optic line or telecommunications line that’s going to keep you away from Facebook,” Kerr said.

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“Even if you’re hiring someone to put that new patio in or build a fence for you, you still want to make sure that they’re having the utilities marked, and if they’re not, don’t let them dig until they are marked,” Hicks said.

It doesn’t matter if you live in the city or out in the country, you need to call before you dig.

“A lot of times, major transportation pipelines are buried in those rural areas because no one would be digging around them. It’s safe for a community. So, whether it’s rural or urban, make that call to 811,” Kerr said. “Not making the call can cost you everything, but making the call costs you nothing.”

Experts say digging accidents cause tens of thousands of service disruptions and dozens of injuries each year. Calling 811 first will help you avoid that. It’s a free call and available 24/7.

You can also go online to get your utilities marked – just visit www.call811.com.

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