Jane Van Ryan
Posted August 11, 2010
Several years ago my husband was planting a bush in our lawn when the shovel struck something hard. Assuming he'd hit a rock, he gave the shovel a mighty push. Immediately, he heard the telltale hiss of natural gas as he severed a tiny pipe that fed fuel to the lantern by the driveway.
He should have called 811 before he began to dig.
Today, August 11--8/11--is the perfect day to remember the importance of calling the 811 telephone number before planting a bush, installing a mailbox, building a deck, or excavating a large commercial or industrial project. The phone call is free, and the number is accessible from every state. A call center will arrange to send a professional locator to your property at no cost to mark the location of all underground utilities, including gas lines, communications cables, electric lines and oil pipelines.
API's Pipeline Director Peter Lidiak says calling 811 before reaching for the shovel can prevent injuries, repair costs, fines and outages. In his view, 811 should become as familiar as 911.
"Millions of us live, work or play near or above underground infrastructure. We need to protect it by calling 811," Peter says. Peter provides more information about the 811 number in a podcast here.
Failure to call 811 results in more than 60,000 unintentional utility hits annually--one every three minutes. Click on Call 811 - Know what's below to learn more about safe digging practices.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.