In observance of National 811 Day, which is designed to bring awareness to safe digging practices, Southern California Gas Co. Tuesday reminded homeowners and professional excavators to utilize the free 811 service before starting any construction projects to prevent injuries and reduce the potential for costly repairs.

The Underground Service Alert system is responsible for relaying important information surrounding the planned dig site with appropriate utility companies. After a request is received and processed, professional utility technicians will then either mark underground infrastructure or provide notification if there are no underground lines.

“Failing to contact 811 can have tragic consequences,” said Gina Orozco, the utility’s vice president of gas engineering and system integrity. “A year ago, we lost one of our own when he responded to a damaged service line.”

She noted that contacting 811 “is free, effortless and essential in making sure you and your families are protected from dangers of an accidental dig-in, which can lead to serious injury, costly property damage or service interruptions. Whether you’re setting up a new fence or simply working in your yard, remember to contact 811 at least two business days prior to digging to keep you and your family safe against preventable damage.”

According the Common Ground Alliance, about 45% of all excavator damages in California in 2019 were a result of failing to mark underground utility lines. The likelihood of hitting a utility line is decreased by 99% when 811 is utilized.

This year, to bring attention to the importance of contacting 811, SoCalGas is partnering with home renovation experts for the “Dig It to Win It” contest on Facebook and Instagram. Participants are encouraged to submit home and yard improvement projects from now until Sept. 10. Winners will be selected from two separate categories for a chance to win an $811 VISA gift card.

SoCalGas recommends taking these steps before starting any project that involves digging:

— mark out the proposed excavation area in white paint, chalk, flour or other suitable materials.

— contact Underground Service Alert at 811 to submit a location request online or dial 8-1-1 at least two business days before digging.

— wait until a SoCalGas technician has marked the utility’s natural gas lines, indicating pipe material and diameter, or gives notification that the area is clear. Remember that SoCalGas only use yellow paint, flags or stakes to mark the location of natural gas pipes.

— use only hand tools to dig within 24 inches of a marked utility line to carefully expose the exact locations before using any power excavation equipment in the area.

— report all pipe damage, regardless of how small or how big it may be, by calling 1-800-427-2200.

For more information on natural gas safety and 811, visit: .

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