PORTLAND, Ore. — April marks National Safe Digging Month, a time to remember to call 811 to have underground utility lines located before digging in your yard, garden and beyond. This spring, that reminder is even more important with so many people in the Northwest staying home to stay healthy and potentially doing more yardwork than normal.
“If you or a contractor will be digging in your yard, make sure you call 811 at least two days ahead of time. Locate crews are still working during this time and abiding by all COVID-19 safety recommendations,” said Scott Gallegos, NW Natural’s damage prevention supervisor. “It’s a free service, and it’s the law.”
Nationally, the most common cause of a natural gas pipeline damage is someone accidentally digging into the pipe. Accidentally hitting an underground utility line can interrupt service to entire neighborhoods and lead to serious injuries, fines and costly repairs.
A helpful checklist to get started:
- Regardless of digging depth or familiarity with the property, make your request at least two business days before you plan to dig.
- Call 811 or use the free NW Natural Safety App.
- When you call 811, the Oregon Utility Notification Center notifies local utility companies of the intent to dig. Then a professional locator visits the site to mark the location of underground utility lines. The OUNC says the contractors who come out to mark buried lines will follow COVID-19 health safety precautions.
- Confirm with 811 that all lines have been marked.
- Consider moving your project location if it’s near utility line markings.
- If working with a contractor, confirm a call to 811 has been made. Don’t allow work to begin if lines aren’t marked.
If while you’re digging, you accidentally hit a gas line, report it immediately by calling 911 or NW Natural’s 24-hour emergency line at 800-882-3377. No damage is too small to report, even a small dent could weaken a natural gas line.
Always remember: Smell. Go. Let us know. If you smell natural gas, leave the area immediately, then call us at 800-882-3377 and we will come over to check things out. During COVID-19, NW Natural’s crews are following Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines regarding social distancing, face covering and sanitizing protocols.
For more information, visit https://www.nwnatural.com/Residential/Safety/811CallBeforeYouDig.