Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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Opinion

April 4, 2013

Make the call before digging

— Saturday is forecast to be partly sunny and near 59 degrees. Temperatures on Sunday are expected to be 60. With cold weather hopefully behind us, many probably are planning to work outside this weekend.

But before you put a shovel in the ground, know where utility lines are buried. We encourage do-it-yourselfers to first phone Indiana’s call-before-you-dig number, 811.

A study released this week suggests many won’t.

A national survey of 624 homeowners, conducted Feb. 28 through March 5 by Common Ground Alliance, found 48 percent of those polled would not call 811 in advance of a digging project.

“The results of this survey are concerning because the math doesn’t add up in safety’s favor,” said Chuck Miller, director of member and public relations for Indiana 811. “With millions of shovels entering the ground near billions of feet of unmarked underground utilities this year, we will continue to see damages occur every few minutes, leading to inconvenient outages, and in worst-case scenarios boldily harm.”

The failure of some to locate underground utilities before digging results in more than 256,000 incidents of utility damage across the U.S. each year, according to NIPSCO. That’s an average of 700 occurrences per day.

Before beginning a digging project, Indiana 811 offers the following recommendations:

• Always call 811 before digging, regardless of the depth or familiarity with the property.

• Tell neighbors, co-workers, family and friends about 811 if they discuss their plans for an outdoor tree- or shrub-removal project with you.

• Plan ahead – Indiana 811 is always open. Just make sure you call at least two working days in advance of your project start date. This gives the utility companies time to find and mark buried lines on your property.

• Avoid starting projects until you’re sure all lines are marked. If you’re unsure, confirm that all lines have been marked by contacting Indiana 811.

• If your excavation is within 2 feet of the marked facility, you must only use hand tools with extreme caution.

• If a contractor has been hired, confirm that a call to 811 has been made.

Visit www.indiana811.org for more information, and don’t forget to call before you dig.

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