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Know What's Below Before You Dig. It's The Law.

It just takes a free call to 811 and two days for utility companies to mark their lines so you know it's safe to dig.
It just takes a free call to 811 and two days for utility companies to mark their lines so you know it's safe to dig.

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Shovel in your future? Maybe the ice storm took out a tree or shrub or two? Before you start to dig.... you need to know what's below...the dirt. It's lines and pipes that give you cable and water and lights It's easy to find out where though – with a call to 811.

Before you dial, mark the spot for your plants with white spray paint so the gas company and other utilities can mark theirs lines with flags and paint. The rule is: don't dig within 30 inches on either side of the flags.

This graphic from NC811.org shows all the different lines that could run to your house. Your sewer is green. Gas is yellow. Phone is orange. Darren Pruitt with Colonial Pipeline says a disruption in those services matter. You could injure yourself. You could injure others. You could hit a phone line and not get emergency service to your neighborhood."

To be safe, call at least two days before you dig. Call 811 is actually a call center and they will notify the local utilities if those utilities have lines in your area they will come out. Some lines may be private, like NorthState telephone, so you might have to call them yourself.

If you don't call and hit something, call the utility immediately. Darren says, "There may be no damage at that time. However, it could be a utility that maybe you hit the protective covering maybe something that doesn't show up until later. If it is an emergency situation, call 911 immediately.

It is the law to call 811 before you dig but it's unlikely to cost you if don't and cut the cable the line. There's rarely a fine or charge from most utilities.

Now - what if you already have a row of plants, do you need to call? You do. In fact Darren says even if you dug in the same spot – even as few as 10 days ago - call 811. Darren said you don't know what may have changed. Maybe the cable guy came and you don't know it.

Calling 811 is a free service and you're not bothering them. Visit their website for more information including all the information you'll need before you call.