Throughout April, Sunshine 811, Peoples Gas and other utilities were promoting the 14th annual National Safe Digging Month, and although the month has passed, digging safely is still a must. When digging unprepared, people risk hitting the network of wires, cables and pipelines located underground. Striking one of these underground utility lines could result in loss of natural gas, electric, water or communications and cable services; injure you or others; and potentially result in fines and repair costs.
“Thousands of our customers saw their natural gas service impacted by damage to pipelines during excavation or DIY projects last year,” said Luke Buzard, vice president of Pipeline Safety and Regulatory Affairs for Peoples Gas. “When homeowners forget to call 811 before digging, they run the risk of damaging their own service lines. When excavators don’t follow safe digging practices, even if they call 811 ahead of a project, the impact is much greater—hundreds of residents and businesses can lose utility service from just one hit line.”
Call 811 and Sunshine 811—a call center and educational resource for Florida’s excavators, underground facility owners and operators and any other stakeholders wanting to prevent excavation damage to underground facilities—will notify all appropriate utility companies of your intent to dig, and then Peoples Gas’ team of locators will visit job sites and mark natural gas lines around homes and businesses. Here are some tips to remember:
⦁ Call 811 or visit sunshine811.com at least two full business days before digging to make your request, giving utility companies enough time to properly mark lines. When you call 811, you will be asked for the location(s) and description of your digging project.
⦁ Sunshine 811 notifies affected utility companies, who then send a professional locator to mark the approximate location of underground equipment for free.
⦁ Check the Sunshine 811 Positive Response link at sunshine811.com and, once all utilities have responded, roll up those sleeves and dig carefully within 24 inches of any marks in your project area.
⦁ Even if you are not digging, remember to leave any markers—paint or flags—in place. They are a sign of work that may be coming soon to your area by a utility or contractor.
Peoples Gas System, Florida’s largest natural gas distribution utility, serves more than 425,000 customers across the state. Peoples Gas is a subsidiary of Emera Inc., a geographically diverse energy and services company headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.