The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Stay Safe, Call 811 Before You Dig

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted April 1, 2014

To help mark National Safe Digging Month – designed to encourage professional excavators and homeowners alike call_811to dial 811 before digging – we thought we’d highlight some of the FAQs from the website.

First, a reminder that 811, the “call before you dig” service, was created to help protect everyone from unintentionally hitting underground utility lines during digging projects. Every digging job requires a call – even small ones like planting trees or shrubs. Call 811 from anywhere in the country a few days before digging, and you’ll be connected with someone who will take down details about the job or project. In a few days a locator will come at no charge to mark the approximate location of underground lines, pipes and cables.

The Call 811 campaign is sponsored by the Common Ground Alliance, the leading association created specifically to work with involved parties to prevent damage to underground utility infrastructure and ensure public safety and environmental protection. Now, some of the most-asked questions.

Q: Why should I call 811 before every dig?

A: The location of underground utility lines and other infrastructure will help protect you from injury and prevent damage to utilities, service disruptions and potential fines and repair costs. The depth of utility lines varies, and multiple lines may be located in a specific area.

Q: Do homeowners have to call 811, too?

A: Yes. Before each job, make the call.

Q: How far in advance do I need to call?

A: State laws vary from 48 to 72 hours, most excluding weekends and legal holidays. Get specific information by calling 811 directly.

Q: What’s the significance of the different colored flags that are set out?

A: There’s a universal color code to show what’s located below. Red = an electrical line; orange = telecommunications, telephone or cable TV; yellow = a gas or petroleum pipeline; blue = potable water; green = a sewage or drainage line; purple = reclaimed water; white = the premark site of an intended excavation.

Q: How long are the marks good for?

A: State laws vary. Call 811 directly and they will let you know the marks’ duration where you live.

For more information, visit the website.


Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.