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Don’t Get Hurt: Always Call 8-1-1 Before You Dig

Tuesday, August 20, 2013
COLUMBUS, Ohio – August is historically the time of year when the most damages to natural gas pipelines happen. Columbia Gas of Ohio reminds homeowners, contractors and professional excavators to always call 8-1-1 at least two business days prior to any digging or demolition project and have all underground utility lines marked. This service is provided at no charge by the utility and it is required by Ohio law.

“Calling 8-1-1 helps keep customers, excavators and Columbia Gas employees safe, which is our No. 1 goal,” said Dan Creekmur, vice president and general manager of operations for Columbia Gas of Ohio. “By sharing the responsibility of protecting underground utilities you allow Columbia Gas, and other utilities, the opportunity to locate our underground facilities before someone excavates.”

Ohio law requires anyone – even a homeowner planning to put a fence or mail box or plant a tree in their yard – to call the Ohio Utilities Protection Service (O.U.P.S.) at 8-1-1 at least two business days before digging to allow underground utility lines to be marked.

Underground utility lines are struck about 256,000 times per year, and more than one third of those incidents could be prevented by calling 8-1-1 before digging.     

Dialing 8-1-1 automatically directs callers to O.U.P.S., which alerts utilities and underground facility owners, who then identify and mark their lines in your yard. This is a free service. Columbia Gas offers some simple tips to avoid damaging underground utility facilities:

  1. Determine your project area and clearly mark it.
  2. Call 8-1-1 before beginning your project.
  3. Note that the person or party doing the digging must be the one to call O.U.P.S. (8-1-1) For instance, if you’ve hired a landscaper, the company must call in the notification.
  4. Allow at least two full business days for the companies to identify and mark the location of their underground lines.
Once lines are marked, it’s important to respect the marks and excavate carefully. The depth of utility lines can vary for a number of reasons, such as erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surfaces. Underground utility lines need to be properly marked because even when digging only a few inches, the risk of striking an underground utility line still exists.

“Don’t ruin your summer by digging into a gas line,” Creekmur said. “By calling 8-1-1, you protect yourself, your neighbors, utility workers and emergency responders. Safety is always our No. 1 goal. Know what’s below. Call 8-1-1 before you dig."

Columbia Gas of Ohio safely delivers clean and efficient natural gas to approximately 1.4 million customers in 61 of Ohio’s 88 counties. With headquarters in Columbus, it is one of the seven energy distribution companies of NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI) and is the largest natural gas utility in the state. NiSource companies deliver energy to approximately 3.8 million customers located within the high-demand energy corridor stretching from the Gulf Coast through the Midwest to New England.

Be sure to call 811 at least two business days before you dig. For information about natural gas safety and what to do if you suspect a gas leak, go to: SafeGasOhio.org.