Safe Digging

Before you begin your next home improvement project, read this: The law requires you to call 811 at least two business days before you dig 16 inches or deeper. The reason? Your call will notify local utilities of your plans, and they will find and flag their underground lines free of charge. This helps excavators know which areas to avoid so you don’t get injured or damage the utility lines.

Follow these five steps to stay safe:

  1. Call before you dig.

    Simply dial 811. Lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The operator will ask you how long you’ll need to dig and how deep you plan to go. Then, he or she will contact your utilities so they can mark their lines. (Keep the reference number that the operator gives you. You’ll need it if you call again regarding your request.)

    Note: Some water and sewer municipalities are not included in the one-call notification system. You should call them separately so they can mark the location of their underground equipment.
  2. Wait two business days.

    For example, if you plan to dig on Saturday, call by Wednesday. Texas law requires this time-frame to allow utilities enough time to flag their underground lines.

  3. Watch for the marks.

    Utilities will point out the approximate location of buried facilities using paint, flags, stakes or a combination thereof. (If you outline the excavation area in white paint beforehand, they will better understand where you plan to dig.) Utilities observe a recognized code for marking underground lines:

    • Red = Electric lines
    • Yellow = Gas lines
    • Orange = Communication lines
    • Green = Sewer and drain lines
    • Blue = Water
  4. Dig carefully.

    Once the work begins, it’s up to you to use safe, accepted digging practices. (For instance, always hand-dig when you’re within two feet of any marked lines.) Make sure the marks remain visible during the project. If they’re damaged or destroyed, you must call 811 for a re-mark.

  5. If you hit a utility line, call 911.

    And, if you know it’s a CoServ line, call us at (884) 330-0763. We answer emergency calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Need more information? Visit, or explore the ins and outs of natural gas safety right here.