After two years under the cloud of the coronavirus pandemic, Floridians are on the move. Statewide growth is resulting in increased construction activities, and longer days and temperate springtime weather mean homeowners are spending more time on planting and other outdoor projects. Contractors, excavators and DIYers need to remember to call 811 two business days before they start digging.
Throughout April, Sunshine 811, Peoples Gas and other utilities are promoting National Safe Digging Month. The campaign is designed to remind Floridians of the network of wires, cables and pipelines located underground, and often closer to the surface than you might think. Striking one of these underground utility lines while digging 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.
“There were nearly 1,700 damages to our natural gas delivery system last year,” said Luke Buzard, vice president of Pipeline Safety and Regulatory Affairs for Peoples Gas. “That’s equivalent to about five incidents a day, and more than half could have been avoided by calling 811 and following safe digging practices.”
Peoples Gas responded to nearly 600,000 requests to locate and mark underground lines in 2021, a 12 percent increase over 2020.
“Construction work and DIY projects are on the rise across the state,” said Buzard. “Making the call to 811 before starting is a vital step in any digging project. We all have to take responsibility for the safety of ourselves, our neighbors and the services we depend on every day. ”
One free, simple phone call to 811 makes it easy for Sunshine 811 to notify all appropriate utility companies of your intent to dig. Peoples Gas has a team of locators who visit job sites and mark our natural gas lines around homes and businesses – but only if there’s a call to 811 to let us know. Here are some tips to remember:
- Call 811 or visit 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.
- The contractor doing the work is responsible for contacting 811 to request property be located and marked. Sunshine 811 recommends that all excavators request their own tickets.
- Sunshine 811 notifies affected utility companies, which then send a professional locator to mark the approximate location of underground equipment for free.
- Check the Sunshine 811 Positive Response link at com and, once all utilities have responded by marking the site and giving the all-clear, 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 445,000 homes and businesses across the state. The company’s mission is to make life better for communities by delivering safe, resilient, efficient and affordable natural gas energy solutions. Through investments in people, technology, infrastructure and environmentally focused innovations, the company is committed to fueling Florida’s clean energy future responsibly and sustainably. Peoples Gas is a subsidiary of Emera Inc., a geographically diverse energy and services company headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Visit floridasenergy.com to learn more.