Digging safely is more important than ever

Call 811 before any digging project to protect vital infrastructure and essential services

ST. LOUIS, MO (STL.News) With Missouri residents spending more time at home due to state and local “stay-at-home” orders, some landscaping and outdoor projects may now be top of mind for Missouri families just as the milder spring weather begins.  During this time, utilities continue to focus on public safety, including marking buried utility lines.

April is National Safe Digging Month, and Ameren Missouri is reminding customers to call 811 before any digging project.  Even smaller projects, such as installing mailboxes or planting flowers and trees, require a call to 811.

“A simple call to 811 is the first step to safely complete your project and avoid accidental damage that could mean outages to your neighbors, including loss of internet, phone or household appliances,” said Jim Huss, director of operations excellence for Ameren Missouri.

Buried utilities are everywhere and many are just a few inches below the ground.  Hitting a line can not only disrupt service, but it can result in serious injury.  If you do hit a buried utility, call 811 to report it.  If you believe you have hit a natural gas or pipeline facility, or smell natural gas, move away from the area and call 911 immediately to report it.

Marking utility lines is a free service for homeowners, and it’s the law.  The service takes three days for all utilities to be marked. Right now, Missouri One Call 811 is advising residents to call earlier than the normal three-day window, if possible.  They are asking residents to call up to 10 days in advance so all utilities have enough time to mark buried lines.

“Protecting underground infrastructure is vital to maintaining essential services.  This is one small way we can all help,” Huss said.  “Please be mindful that your family, your community and local businesses could be affected by accidental damage.”

There are four simple steps to starting your digging project:

  • Call 811 at least three days ahead of starting a digging project.
  • Wait for all utilities to be marked.
  • Confirm that all utilities to your home have been clearly marked.
  • Begin your project safely.  Dig slowly and carefully around markers to avoid hitting a buried utility.