Louisiana 811 reminding people about safe digging

MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Louisiana One Call says everyone should know the number 811.

By law, everyone is required to call 811 before digging anything. This number is not only important for contractors, but for everyone digging into the ground. They say even if you’re only digging a few inches to plant new flowers in a garden, you still risk hitting a line.

They say people should call at least three days before they start to dig. Louisiana One Call will then send a crew out to locate and mark underground lines. That could be any kind of lines like electric, gas, water or sewer. That person then has 20 days to dig.

“Here in the Monroe area, there are thousands of miles of underground facilities. Some of them three feet deep, some of them several inches deep,” says damage prevention coordinator Jeff Morrison. “That’s because of erosion, land leveling, and some of the facilities have been in there for a number of years. So there's no safe depth that you can dig without calling."

Morrison says statistics show damage occurs somewhere every six minutes because someone failed to call 811. Some of those accidents are minor and some are major. He says fatalities occur every year because of this.

He says even if you don't think there's a line on your property, it's not worth risking your life.

"With so much directional drilling, you can’t tell if a line has been put in or not. So it's the safe thing to do.”

“We have a mission statement at Louisiana One Call and we have a lot of rules and regulations, but basically what we're there for is to ensure that every excavator goes home safely at the end of the day to his family," Morrison says.

The 811 service is completely free.

If you're caught digging without calling 811 first, you could face a fine, payment for damages caused, or even serious injury.