It’s that time of year when people are landscaping and doing other outdoor activities which requiring digging into the ground. Since the Las Vegas Valley is urban and compact, many utilities, including electricity, natural gas, water, sewage and communications, are located underground. To prevent potential accidents, call 8-1-1, a free service, and request that underground utilities be located. Not knowing where these utilities are while digging can potentially cause damage to underground lines and injuries or even death to the person digging. The 8-1-1 campaign aims to emphasis the importance of calling and having lines located BEFORE any digging is done.
To ensure the safety of digging even in your own backyard, call 8-1-1 at least three days before your project and discuss what you plan to do. Utilities will respond and mark off where the underground utilities are so accidental contact does not occur. Simple projects such as planting a tree, bush or digging a hole to put a post for a sign or mailbox have been known to sever utility lines.
8-1-1 is a FCC-designated national N-11 number for homeowners and professional excavators to call before digging. 8-1-1 calls will be directed to the local One Call Center and the affected utilities will be notified to locate and then mark underground utilities for free. Las Vegas Fire & Rescue has responded to incidents in the past that damage underground utilities and found that utilities are not always where people think they are, whether in backyards, side yards, or other unsuspecting locations.
A recent media release by the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) indicated that only about 51 percent of homeowners who knew that they should call 8-1-1 before digging actually did so before starting their project. Some of the projects that people were most likely not to call 8-1-1 before they dig included:
84 percent - Planting shrubs
63 percent - Planting a tree
61 percent - Installing a pole for a basketball goal
50 percent - Building a deck
46 percent - Installing a fence
45 percent - Installing a patio
As part of National Safe Digging Month, CGA encourages homeowners to take the following steps when planning a digging project this spring:
Always call 8-1-1 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 with 8-1-1 that all lines have been marked.
Learn what the various colors or paint and flags represent at www.call811.com/faqs.
Consider moving the location of the project if it is too close to underground utilities.
If a contractor has been hired to do a project on your property, confirm with 8-1-1 that they called to have underground utilities located so no damage occurs on your property.
If you suspect that an underground utility has been struck while working, leave the area immediately, do not smoke or use any type of mechanical device including power equipment and call 9-1-1. If a fire starts because of contact with an underground utility, evacuate the area immediately and call 9-1-1.
More information about the Call Before You Dig campaign and the Common Ground Alliance can be found on the website: www.call811.com.
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