April is National Safe Digging Month. With people across the country planning gardens and other spring projects, it's the perfect time to remind you to always call 8-1-1 before you dig so you’ll know what’s below and can dig safely around the house. DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) will be working especially hard this month urging people to stay safe while digging.
Why is it important to “know what’s below” when digging? Before you start digging, consider that there are 2.5 million miles of pipeline in our nation—so pipeline safety really does involve everyone. Excavation is the number one cause of serious pipeline accidents, and one-third of all pipeline accidents are caused by someone digging and hitting a pipeline by mistake. Plus, hitting a pipeline can cause service outages for you and your neighbors.
So what could be under the ground? For starters: gas pipelines, water lines, cable lines, and electrical lines. Underground pipelines deliver most of the energy we use to heat, cool and operate our homes, cars and businesses.
Who should call? Everyone from professional excavators to people working and gardening in their backyards. One call to 8-1-1 gets someone to come out and mark your underground lines for free.
We all have a role to play to make sure the valuable resources carried by our nation's pipelines are delivered safely and reliably. And that means calling 8-1-1 and staying informed about what’s underground.
- Know Your State’s Pipeline Profile: find out how many pipelines miles are in your state, who regulates them, read incident reports and much more.
- Pipeline Safety Awareness: learn about staying safe around pipelines, including resources for emergency responders.
- Community Pipeline Safety Grants: find out how these funds have helped communities make their neighborhoods safer.
We are dedicated to fully eliminating pipeline accidents. In 2011, PHMSA closed the highest number of pipeline operator enforcement cases in a single year since 2002. And just last week, PHMSA issued an advisory urging pipeline owners and operators to conduct a comprehensive review of their cast iron distribution pipelines and to accelerate pipeline repair, rehabilitation and replacement of high risk pipelines.
But prevention is a shared responsibility. A great first start is always calling before you dig. You can also help throughout Safe Digging Month 2012 by sharing this important safety message with your friends and family: Call 8-1-1 every time you dig, no matter what tool you use to excavate.