PG&E, SoCal Gas Warn of Checking Before Digging.

PG&E, SoCal Gas Warn of Checking Before Digging.

Local utilities and both Bakersfield and Kern County fire departments are reminding the public of the state law requiring you to call 811 before your shovel breaks the dirt.

Spring is here which means many residents in Kern are thinking of starting projects to make their outdoor spaces more livable. Since these projects often require digging and excavation, it is appropriate that April is designated as National Safe Digging Month.

This nationwide public safety initiative is supported by the Bakersfield Fire Department, Kern County Fire Department, Southern California Gas Co (SoCalGas) and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) to raise awareness about the importance of having underground utility lines marked in advance of any digging project.

Safe Digging Tips:

  • Call 811 or go online for an Underground Service Alert (USA) ticket at least two working days before digging: Be prepared to provide the address and general location of the project, project start date and type of digging activity. SoCalGas, PG&E and other utilities will identify underground facilities in the area for free.
  • Dig safely: Use hand tools when digging within 24 inches of the outside edge of underground utility lines. Leave utility flags, stakes or paint marks in place until the project is finished. Backfill and compact the soil.
  • Mind the lines: If the utility line is visible, dig in parallel with the utility line and use all precautions when removing the soil from around the utility line.
  • Be aware of signs of a natural gas leak: Smell for a “rotten egg” odor, listen for hissing, whistling or roaring sounds and look for dirt spraying into the air, bubbling in a pond or creek and dead/dying vegetation in an otherwise moist area.
Throughout the pandemic, many homeowners are using their extra time at home to complete projects that require digging, according to a recent national survey conducted by the Common Ground Alliance (CGA).

In fact, the survey shows that one in five homeowners (20%) have been more likely to do a DIY home improvement involving digging since the pandemic began – particularly gardening projects, and 56% of homeowners who are planning to plant a tree or shrub this year said they were more likely to dig while having extra time at home. The most popular planned projects cited among surveyed homeowners who plan to dig include:

·        Planting a tree or shrub: 62%

·        Building a fence: 37%

·        Building a deck or patio: 32%

·        Installing a mailbox: 20%

·        Installing a pool: 6%

·        Something else: 26%

Utility companies and first responders are urging residents to help prevent dig-ins by placing a toll-free call to 811 or an online request to have gas and electric lines marked free of charge at least two working days before the project begins.

811 is a designated toll-free number staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week for homeowners and professional excavators. Operators answering calls and emails will dispatch all necessary utilities to properly mark underground utility lines with paint or flags.