Call 8-1-1 and stay safe during home digging projects

April 06, 2020

PORTLAND, Ore. — Homebound residents may be tempted to get their exercise with yard work and long put-off projects. Pacific Power urges customers to call 8-1-1 two days before doing any digging in their yards, even for something as simple as planting a tree.

Even during the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, the nationwide 8-1-1 hotline is working. With a simple call, utility location professionals will come and identify any underground utilities that could prove hazardous to your work.

A national survey recently found that 45 percent of residents planning a digging project fail to call 8-1-1. That means thousands will put themselves and their communities at risk by not calling 8-1-1 a few days beforehand to learn the approximate location of underground utilities.

The national public opinion survey of homeowners conducted in March by the Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the national association dedicated to protecting underground utility lines and the people who dig near them, also revealed the most popular planned projects cited among surveyed homeowners who plan to dig include:

  • Planting a tree or shrub (47 percent)
  • Building a patio or deck (24 percent)
  • Building a fence (21 percent)
  • Installing a mailbox (8 percent)

Pacific Power and its sister utility in the mountain states have approximately 20,000 miles of underground cable in the West. 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, provide the services Americans depend on for their basic everyday needs. But if you don’t know where they are buried before you dig, you are in danger. Even if you are lucky enough to not be harmed, you could be responsible for causing a service outage in your neighborhood—and potentially be responsible for the substantial repair costs.

If you are planning a job that requires digging, even if hiring a professional, a call to 8-1-1 is required before work begins. The 8-1-1 service is free and couldn’t be easier. It’s a Federal Communications Commission-designated national one-call number that connects a caller from anywhere in the country to the appropriate local one-call center. The one-call center then alerts local underground facility owners so they can mark the approximate location of their lines with paint or flags.

To learn more about electrical safety or to order free electrical safety materials, call Pacific Power’s public safety department at 800-375-7085 or visit pacificpower.net/safety.