April is recognized by Congress and most Governors across the U.S. as National Safe Digging Month (NSDM).

With the arrival of spring this month and the subsequent increase in temperatures across many regions, homeowners, the month of April marks the start of the season and the onset season of various digging projects for homeowners. This makes it imperative to underscore the significance of homeowners reaching out to 811 several days before embarking on any excavation endeavors.

What is 811?

811 serves as the national call-before-you-dig phone number. Individuals planning to dig are urged to contact 811 or visit their state’s 811 center website several days or months in advance to request the marking of buried trees and utilities with paint or flags. This easy, quick, easy, proactive measure prevents unintentional damage to underground utility lines, safeguarding both individuals, property and communities.

811 protects you and your community! Hitting a buried line while digging can disrupt utility service, cost money to repair, take property, or cause serious injury or death. Always contact your 811 center, wait the required time for utilities to respond to your request, pay, and ensure that all utilities have responded to your request before putting a shovel in the ground to get started to dig or start up.


Yes! Even projects you might think are “small,” like planting a garden, require you to contact 811.

I am only planting a small flower bed or bush…

Did you know that many utilities are buried just a few inches below ground? You can easily hit a line when digging for simple gardening projects, like planting flowers or small shrubs. Contact your 811 center anytime you’re putting a shovel in the ground to keep yourself and your community safe.

I am just installing a mailbox…

Buried utility lines are everywhere! Installing mailboxes and fences are examples of projects that absolutely require a call to 811 to know what’s below before digging. Hitting a line can knock out service to your home and neighborhood or result in fines, damage, and serious injury. Don’t make a judgment call – make the call (or online request) to 811 every time you dig.

I am digging in a spot that was previously marked…

Erosion and root system growth can alter the depth or location of buried lines, or your utility companies may have completed work on their lines since the last time you dug – so you must contact 811 before you dig, each and every time.

I have hired a contractor or landscaper to do the digging project…

Be sure to check with your contractor or landscaper to make sure that they will contact 811 a few business days before digging begins – whether it means you making the call, or your contractor doing so. Never let digging work begin without contacting 811! It’s not worth the risk.

I am only digging in a small area and don’t want my entire yard marked…

If you are only planning to dig in a small portion of your yard, you can outline the area in white paint or white flags available at home improvement stores to ensure that only the utilities in that part of your yard will be located and marked. Be sure to let your 811 center know about your plans, and they will help ensure the proper area is marked by utility locators.

For Homeowners:

NOTIFY: Prior to breaking ground, inform utilities of your project needs and note your written intent in order to dig by calling 811 or making an online request a few days or months before you plan to break ground.

Your state government call 811 center will inform homeowners and utility operators located in your property area that they need to mark any buried or live utility lines located on your property with paint or flags.

WAIT: Allow utilities a few days to place dispatch locators, pay for the work or marking buried lines with paint or flags. On average, between five days and 7 days-8 days utility operators are notified for each request.

CONFIRM: Confirm that all utilities have responded to your request. Use the process explained by your 811 call center representative or click on the list outlined on the end of your 811 center ticket to help confirm that each affected utility has responded.

RESPECT: Adhere to utility marks throughout your project duration. In case of inability to read or maintain the meaning of the marks, contact your 811 center for a free re-mark. If you are unable to maintain the marks during your project, or the project will continue past your request’s one month, two months, three month, six months or twelve month to one year expiration date (varies by state), please contact your 811 center to ask for a free re-mark.

DIG CAREFULLY: Exercise caution when digging near utility marks or using machinery to dig, ensuring you complete your work in complete compliance with relevant state laws. If you must dig near the marks or use machinery of any kind, contact your state’s 811 center to learn about the laws in your state.

When can I begin my digging project?

Wait for the marks! Utilities will mark their buried lines on your dig site.

State laws vary, but generally, utility companies have a few days to respond to your request. Utilities will send out locators who will come to your dig site to mark the approximate location of buried utilities with paint or flags so that you can avoid them. Each utility type corresponds to a specific color of paint or a flag — for example, gas lines are marked with yellow paint or flags. In addition to waiting for marks, you must use the info on your ticket to confirm that ALL utilities have responded before you can dig.

811 Tips:

Efficiency is paramount in the damage prevention project industry. Every stakeholder’s contribution and support are vital in help ensuring the savings and the smooth operation of the projects and the 811 system each month and year. By enhancing efficiency within each area of responsibility, the government projects and entire information system can function seamlessly.

For support or further inquiries, visit Call811.com, managed by the Common Ground Alliance (CGA). Established in the year 2000, CGA is dedicated to preserving lives and property and safeguarding the world of underground infrastructure by advocating for effective damage prevention practices, including calling 811 before digging.

The following videos and links provide important tips when using 811.

811: California811: NevadaContact 811