This Thursday, August 11 (8/11), is National 811 Day. Also known as National Safe Digging Day, the observance exists to raise awareness about contacting 811 before beginning a digging or excavation project. The Oregon Utility Notification Center, which oversees the statewide call or click before you dig program, is reminding Oregonians that using the free service can save money and lives.
“None of us have x-ray vision to see underground utilities before breaking ground, and we know there are a lot of construction and home improvement projects happening this time of year,” said Josh Thomas, Executive Director of the Oregon Utility Notification Center. “National Safe Digging Day is a perfect time to remind everyone to contact 811 first so they don’t have to call 911.”
Oregon 811, also known as the Oregon Utility Notification Center, was created by the Oregon Legislature back in 1995 to prevent damage to underground utilities and enhance public safety. The free service is available by calling 811 or going to Oregon811.com. By requesting a locate, homeowners and businesses can have their dig site marked with color-coded spray paint to avoid hitting underground pipes and wires.
The most well-known incident in Oregon happened about six years ago involving a destructive gas explosion at the corner of 23rd and Glisan in downtown Portland. It injured eight people and caused an estimated $14 million in damages. Just last year, there were 922 reported damages to underground utilities in Oregon, and most were preventable.
According to the Common Ground Alliance, the estimated annual cost of damages to underground utilities nationally is $30 billion. Nearly two out of five U.S. homeowners dig without requesting the free 811 service beforehand. The 811 center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for homeowners, contractors, and professional excavators. Requests must be made two business days before a project but not more than 10 days in advance.
“It is always a smart idea to plan ahead and request utility locates to know what’s below before digging,” said Thomas. “Using our free service is one of the easiest ways you can prevent service interruptions, costly repairs, environmental damage, injuries and worse.”