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Know What’s Below – Always Call 811 Before You Dig

Contributed by: Ann Rushing, NC811 Education Manager


There are nearly 20 million miles of underground utility lines in the United States. These buried facilities, including gas, water, sewer, cable TV, high-speed Internet, landline telephone and electric, provide the services Americans depend on for their basic everyday needs.

If you are planning a job that requires digging, even if you plan to hire a professional, a call to 811 is required before you begin working. 811 is a free, FCC-designated national one-call number that connects a caller from anywhere in the country to the appropriate local one-call center, which in this area is NC811.


NC811 will then alert the affected underground facility owners so they can dispatch locators to mark the approximate location of their lines with paint or flags.


Every nine minutes an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without first calling 811.

Unintentionally striking a line can result in inconvenient outages for entire neighborhoods, harm to yourself or your neighbors, and costly repairs.

Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a call to 811. Installing a mailbox, building a deck and planting a tree are all examples of digging projects that should only begin after you have waited at least 3 full working days after calling and confirmed that all facility owners in your area have either marked their lines or declared the area clear of any lines.


Here’s how it works:


1.  One free, simple phone call to 811 makes it easy for NC811 to notify all appropriate utility companies of your intent to dig.


2.  Call 3 full working days prior to digging to ensure enough time for utility lines to be marked accurately.


3.  When you call 811, a representative from NC811 will ask for the location and description of your digging project.


4.  NC811 will notify affected utility companies, which will then send professional locators to the proposed dig site to mark the approximate location of your lines.


5.  Once lines have been accurately marked, roll up those sleeves and carefully dig around the marked areas.


Make a phone call, not a judgment call. Learn more about 811 at and keep your project safe for you and your community.



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