April marks National Safe Digging Month, and Delmarva Power reminds all customers and contractors to call 811 a few days before digging to learn the approximate location of underground utilities.

A national survey conducted in March by the Common Ground Alliance, the national association dedicated to protecting underground utility lines, people who dig near them and their communities, revealed that 42% of homeowners who plan to dig this year for DIY projects don’t plan on calling 811 and will put themselves and their communities at risk.

Digging without knowing the approximate location of underground utilities can result in serious injuries, service disruptions and costly repairs when gas, electric, communications, water and sewer lines are damaged. Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a call to 811. Landscaping, planting trees and shrubs, installing a fence or mailbox and building a deck, pond or patio are all examples of digging projects where a call to 811 should be one of the first steps.

Delmarva Power has more than 6,000 miles of underground electric lines in Delaware and Maryland and nearly 3,500 miles of natural gas distribution mains and distribution service lines buried throughout New Castle County. Aside from Delmarva Power’s lines, there are underground communications cables, water and sewer lines and other utilities. In 2018, 136 of Delmarva Power’s underground electric lines and 107 of the company’s natural gas lines were struck due to unsafe digging practices, which could have been avoided by calling 811. Properly locating underground lines is essential to safely completing any digging job.

Residents and businesses should take the following steps when planning a digging project this spring:

— Always call 811 a few days before digging, regardless of the depth or familiarity with the property.

— Plan ahead. Call 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 a project if it is near utility line markings.

— If a contractor has been hired, confirm the contractor has called 811. Don’t allow work to begin if the lines aren’t marked.

— Visit call811.com for more information.

When calling 811 at least two business days prior to digging, customers and contractors are connected to Miss Utility of Delmarva to provide information about their project 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.

To promote safety around electric infrastructure in the communities it serves, Delmarva Power also reminds residents and businesses that customer-owned structures are not permitted within Delmarva Power’s easements near overhead equipment. Customers must contact their local municipality to obtain the necessary permits prior to any construction near company-owned transmission or distribution lines.

Delmarva Power joins the Exelon family of companies, the other 1,700 Common Ground Alliance members, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and governors across the country in marking April as National Safe Digging Month to bring extra attention to the issue of underground utility line safety and reduce the risk of unnecessary infrastructure damage.

For more, visit delmarva.com or call 800-375-7117.