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April is National safe digging month

Star Herald Editorial

April is National Safe Digging Month and CenterPoint Energy encourages customers to call 811 in advance about projects such as installing a garden, fence, pool or water sprinkler system. 
Digging without knowing the location of underground utilities can result in serious injury or death, service disruptions and costly fines or repairs.
Hitting underground natural gas, electric, communications, water and sewer lines while digging can have a major impact on communities and businesses.
Making a free request before digging at or by calling 811 can help maintain the safety of everyone who digs, as well as utility services in their communities.
“It is essential that anyone who plans to dig, regardless of how shallow the project might be, contact 811 beforehand to have buried utilities marked to allow for safe digging,” said CenterPoint Energy’s Shane Alexander.
“Callers should contact 811 a few days prior to the start of their digging project to give surveyors enough time to reach the site and mark the area.”
If a contractor is completing the project, it is recommended the homeowner ensure the area has been marked prior to the start of the project. The homeowner is advised to let the contractor know work cannot begin until the area has been marked.
If the property owner has privately owned lines servicing a sprinkler system or outdoor appliance, the property owner is responsible for ensuring these lines are marked.  
 CenterPoint Energy encourages everyone to take the following steps when planning a digging project:
•Always contact 811 a few days before digging, regardless of the depth or familiarity with the property. 
•Plan ahead. Make a free 811 request on Monday or Tuesday for work planned for an upcoming weekend, providing ample time for the approximate location of lines to be marked.
•Confirm that all lines have been marked. 
•Consider moving the location of your project if it is near utility line markings. 
•If a contractor has been hired, confirm that the contractor has contacted 811. Don’t allow work to begin if the lines aren’t marked. 
Callers to 811 will be connected to a local center that will communicate it to local utility companies.
Professional locators will then visit the dig site to mark the approximate location of underground utility lines with spray paint, flags or both.
Once a site has been accurately marked, it is safe to begin digging around the marked areas.
 In the case of a hit pipeline, leave the area immediately. Once in a safe location, report the leak by calling the CenterPoint Energy emergency line at 800-296-9815.

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