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As of: 8:29 AM, 8/16/22

811 Day: What Michiganders Need to Know about Calling Before They Dig

The sun is shining on this beautiful August day in Michigan, a perfect time to complete the yard work you have been pushing off. Your list includes installing the new mailbox, digging up a plot for the garden and making sure the backyard is ready for the contractors coming to put in the new fence next week. It doesn’t seem so bad, you should be able to knock this all out and still have time to relax, right? Time to grab the shovel!

NO! STOP! WAIT!

Before you can get started on any of these jobs, there is a vital step that you must take and that is calling MISS DIG 811.

Who is MISS DIG 811?

MISS DIG 811 is the non-profit Underground Utility Safety Notification System for the entire state of Michigan that operates as a free service to homeowners, excavators, municipalities and utility companies. The law requires everyone, before they begin digging anywhere, to call MISS DIG 811 to request the location of underground facilities, including gas, electric, cable and water lines. This can include large projects such as having a new fence installed or putting in an inground pool in addition to smaller tasks, like installing a mailbox post or digging up a garden. By calling MISS DIG 811, all lines will be marked so damage to utilities, property, the environment and the public can be prevented.

What to do before getting started

In addition to being a free service, MISS DIG 811 makes the process simple and convenient so that you can safely dig. There are just five easy steps:

  1. Contact MISS DIG 811 by placing a ticket online or calling 811 or 1-800-482-7171.
  2. Wait three business days for facility owners to come out and mark all utility lines. Either paint or flags will be used to identify their approximate locations. Underground lines not owned by the utility owner, such as a fuel line to a pool heater, must be marked by a private locator.
  3. Check the status of your request online to ensure all facilities have been marked.
  4. If digging within four feet from either side of the paint or flags, hand dig to expose the lines to prevent damage. Flags and paint are color coded.
  5. Dig with care! You have successfully and safely prepared for your project and are ready for digging!

What are the Dangers of NOT Calling?

A major misconception about MISS DIG 811 is the severity of not calling. This is the law and it ensures your safety. When we say call for ANY digging, we mean it! This is not just for major construction; it includes smaller tasks like driving stakes into the ground for a large tent. By failing to call and not knowing where lines are, you could hit them while digging and cause potentially a dangerous situation. Depending on what you hit, you could cause a gas line fire, be electrocuted or knock out service to yourself and your entire neighborhood.

Safely Digging

Congratulations! You took the steps to safely complete your weekend chores but as you are finishing up, you see your neighbors bringing some new trees into their backyard. What you don’t see though are any flags marking the yard. With what you just learned; you know the severity of failing to call MISS DIG 811, which is why you can place an anonymous concerned caller ticket by calling 811 or talk to your neighbors and educate them on the importance of placing a ticket. Even if you have lived in the same home for decades, you cannot assume you know where all the lines are and need to have someone come out and stake the ground.

If you have any questions about an upcoming digging project, we have multiple resources to help!