April is National Safe Digging Month and Pacific Gas and Electric Company and the Southern Marin Fire District urges all Californians to help stop dig-ins by making the free call to 811 at least two working days ahead of digging projects big and small.
Dig-ins cause damage to underground gas, electric, telecommunications and other infrastructure, which is one of the most serious threats to public safety. In 2015 alone, there were more than 1,600 dig-ins throughout PG&E’s service area.
The 811 one-call service is free, and it’s a requirement of California digging laws. Calling 811 ahead of projects can prevent tragedies like the 2015 third party transmission pipeline strikes that led to fatalities, injuries and property damage in Fresno and Bakersfield.
A call to 811 is the best safeguard and the first line of defense to preventing dig-ins. Callers are connected to their local 811 center that notifies the appropriate utility of their intent to dig. That utility operator sends a specially trained and qualified technician to the digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags or spray paint.
For English and Spanish videos about safe digging, please click this link.
PG&E Safe Digging Tips:
Mark project area in white: Identify the digging location by drawing a box around the area using white paint, white stakes, white flags, white chalk or even white baking flour.
Call 811 or go online for a USA ticket two working days before digging: Be prepared to provide the address and general location of the project, project start date and type of digging activity. PG&E and other utilities will identify underground facilities in the area for free.
Dig safely: Use hand tools when digging within 24 inches of the outside edge of underground lines. Leave utility flags, stakes or paint marks in place until the project is finished. Backfill and compact the soil.
Be aware of signs of a natural gas leak: Smell for a “rotten egg” odor, listen for hissing, whistling or roaring sounds and look for dirt spraying into the air, bubbling in a pond or creek and dead/dying vegetation in an otherwise moist area.
PG&E urges customers to call 911 and PG&E at 1-800-743-5000 if there’s a suspected gas leak. If an accidental dent, scrape or other damage is made to a gas pipeline, those nearby must leave immediately and alert others to avoid the area. Only when a safe distance away, should anything that might create a spark such as cell phones, matches, garage door openers, vehicles, or yard equipment be used.
For more information about 811 and safe digging practices, visit http://www.pge.com/digsafely/.