OLYMPIA, Wash. – To protect personal safety and underground utility infrastructure, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) wants to remind residents to call 8-1-1 before they dig this spring.
Gov. Jay Inslee has issued a proclamation announcing April as Washington Safe Digging Month. The proclamation reminds the state’s residents to call 8-1-1 before they dig to prevent injuries, property damage and inconvenient outages.
By calling 8-1-1, homeowners can obtain a locate at least two business days before they start any outdoor digging projects. Failure to “Call Before You Dig” may result in damage to underground lines or pipes, which happens more than 200,000 times in the U.S. annually.
As residents begin various garden, home improvement and construction projects this spring, they must follow the law and call 8-1-1 before digging. Whether planting a tree, installing a mailbox or building a fence, homeowners and contractors need to know where buried utility lines are located.
In 2012, 1,289 incidents were reported regarding damage to gas pipelines in Washington caused by individuals digging. These potentially dangerous accidents can be prevented by planning ahead and calling 8-1-1.
The Utilities Underground Locating Center receives the calls and dispatches professional locators to physically mark utilities that exist beneath the excavation area. Once the locate is complete, dig carefully around the marked areas with a hand tool because buried electrical lines or natural gas pipes can be dangerously close to the surface. Accidental contact with a shovel or backhoe could be risky and potentially fatal.
By having the underground utilities marked, people can reduce the risk of striking a line, causing outages, damages and fatalities.
The UTC urges citizens who experience trouble with a utility locate – if the locate is late, incomplete or inaccurate - to please call the UTC Consumer Help Line at 1-888-333-WUTC (9882).