Nicor Gas Safe Digging Sweepstakes launches on National 811 Day
Aug. 11 is National 811 Day and Nicor Gas is reminding customers to always contact 8-1-1 before starting any outdoor digging project. Customers who practice safety first will be automatically entered into the Nicor Gas Safe Digging Sweepstakes to win one of two $500 gift cards in August.
Home improvement projects such as planting a tree and deck, fence or mailbox installations all require a call or click to JULIE, Illinois' free notification service. This year, nearly two in five U.S. homeowners will dig without calling 811 beforehand, according to Common Ground Alliance, a member-based association dedicated to the damage prevention of underground utility infrastructure.
"Safety for our customers, communities and our team members is our number one priority,"said Eric Jacobs, asset protection manager at Nicor Gas and a member of JULIE's board of directors. "Digging without knowing the approximate location of underground utilities can result in serious injuries, inconvenient service disruptions and costly repairs."
While home improvement projects were on the rise in 2020, damage to Nicor Gas' underground infrastructure more than doubled. Contacting JULIE, Illinois' free notification service for underground utility locating, is the easiest way to avoid accidentally damaging buried utility lines. And this month, it also automatically enters homeowners into the Nicor Gas Safe Digging Sweepstakes to win a $500 gift card for practicing safety first.
"Every digging project, no matter how large or small, should start with a call or click to 811," Jacobs said. "It' a free call and it's the law."
Whether a homeowners or professional excavators with an earthmover, Ilinois state law requires a call to 811 at least two business days before starting any digging project. When JULIE is contacted, the appropriate utility companies are notified of the intent to dig. Professional locators are then sent "for free" to the requested dig site to mark the approximate locations of underground utility lines with flags, paint or both.
To protect underground utilities and help ensure communities stay safe and connected, Nicor Gas encourages homeowners and contractors to follow these safe digging guidelines and always dig with CARE:
Contact 811 before you dig or visit www.JULIEBeforeYouDig.com to request underground utility lines be marked at least two business days prior to digging. Requests to have utility operators locate underground lines, including natural gas, electric, water, sewer, telephone and cable lines, can be made 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The service is free.
Allow the required time for marking after contacting 811 (approximately two business days). Locators will mark the approximate location of buried lines with color-coded spray paint, flags or stakes corresponding to the utility. The color used for natural gas is yellow.
Respect the marks and only use hand digging tools to carefully uncover the area around a utility line when digging near location markers.
Excavate carefully and ensure the marks remain visible during the project. If the markings are no longer visible, contact 811 to have lines remarked.
If a natural gas line is damaged accidentally or the distinctive rotten-egg odor associated with natural gas is present, call 911 or the Nicor Gas 24-hour emergency phone line at 1-888-Nicor-4U (1-888-642-6748) from a safe location. Do not operate any machinery or equipment that might cause a spark or create an open flame.
To learn more about natural gas safety visit www.nicorgas.com/safety/digging.html.