Join the movement! Awareness campaign in full swing

You’re driving to work and you hear 811 on the radio. You’re doing a little internet surfing and an 811 ad pops up inviting you to click for more information. Or you’re driving down the road and you see 811 on a billboard.

Billboards, radio and internet are part of Sunshine 811’s Safe Digging Month campaign that began in March this year. April is the one month when stakeholders nationwide ramp up their efforts to flood the nation with the message, Know what’s below. Call 811 before you dig.

Sunshine 811 took a slightly different approach this year, focusing its messaging on training and education for Florida’s boots-on-the-ground professionals. The messages focus on two key steps in the 811 process:

  • Safe digging is necessary within the tolerance zone.
  • Checking positive response and comparing it to the job site is key to a successful job.

A third message reminds homeowners of the complex underground utility network within and near personal property:

  • Wireless service is still connected by underground wires and unsafe digging can break the signal.

Join the movement this April!

You can motivate excavators and homeowners to adopt the call-811-before-you-dig procedure. Combine that with safe digging and they will ultimately save lives and protect property and the environment. 


We thank you in advance for your support of this initiative.

Gov. Scott declares April ‘Safe Digging Month’

DeBARY, FL (March 29, 2017) — Gov. Rick Scott declared April to be Safe Digging Month in Florida. It serves as a reminder to call 811 before starting any outdoor digging projects.

Calling 811 connects you to Sunshine 811, the center that takes your information and sends it to local utility companies. Utility locators mark the approximate locations of underground lines at the requested dig site with flags and/or spray paint. Once lines are accurately marked, digging can begin.

In 2015, there were 8,750 underground utility damages throughout Florida. Forty-one percent were because someone didn’t notify 811. Do-it-yourself projects are not immune from this process. Many projects like landscaping, setting new fence posts and replacing mailboxes are in areas where underground utilities run. So digging without using 811 could be dangerous.

If digging is in your plans, remember these tips:

  • Get underground utility lines located and marked with paint and flags for every project. (The marking colors represent specific utilities.)
  • Get a ticket. Call 811 or use Single Address Ticket at sunshine on Tuesday for weekend digging.
  • If you’ve hired a contractor, confirm that Sunshine 811 has been contacted and utilities notified.
  • Consider moving your project if could interfere with the utility lines or, in the case of plants, could grow into them.
  • Next to calling, verifying positive response codes is second in importance. Get the most recent Positive Response System updates at Then, compare those codes to what you see in your yard. Check into anything that doesn’t match a code.
  • Utilities do not locate privately-owned lines on private property such as lines from a meter to your house or lines from your house to an outbuilding, pool or other separate structure. Take necessary precautions to avoid damaging these lines when you dig.

“We enthusiastically join Gov. Scott in asking you to call 811 before digging,” says Sunshine 811 Executive Director Mark Sweet. “When you have underground lines marked, you’re making an important decision to keep your community safe and connected.”

Visit our Safe Digging Month page and toolkit to see how you can tell others about this safety awareness month.

Locator excellence winners announced

Sunshine 811 selected four locators from an impressive slate of candidates to receive the Locator Excellence Award. This is the second year Sunshine 811 has recognized locators for the job that they do to keep Florida safe.

"Locators really have a tough job," states Mark Sweet, Sunshine 811 executive director. "An uptick in construction and ticket volumes keeps them perpetually busy in this hot state. This Locator Excellence Award is just one way we can let them know that we appreciate everything they do for Florida."

These four outstanding locators will accept their awards at 811 Safety Day on March 16, 2017, at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando. 

And the winners are...

  • Eric Chumley, Hillsborough County Public Utilities

  • Ray Godsey, USIC

  • Jacquelyn Martell, USIC

  • James Weaver, City of Margate

Eric Chumley was nominated by Keith Nehrboss of Sunrise Utility Construction, Inc. 

Eric's knowledge and understanding of his craft are outstanding. We are always reassured that when working in Hillsborough County, there will never be a miscommunication on existing utilities because of Eric's expertise. He is very time conscious, respectful to scheduling, and diligent to work completion. In my thirty years of working in the underground business, Eric is one of the most competent people I have had the pleasure to work with.

Ray Godsey was nominated by Bill Thomas of Killebrew, Inc. 

Mr. Godsey exhibits an exceptional concern for the protection of existing utilities while accommodating construction of new utility lines by: (1) being on-site to the fullest extent his schedule allows; (2) being on-call at a moment's notice if uncertainty arises in the field as to existing utility lines in an area about to be excavated; (3) utilizing multiple locating techniques to best pinpoint and identify existing utilities to prevent damage; (4) working hand-in-hand with us, as the excavator, to maintain/update locate marks ahead of excavation and construction activities; and (5) assist in the identification of unknown utilities when found by us during excavation work. Mr. Godsey also does not hesitate to contact his co-workers and fellow-locators from other utility providers to ask questions, obtain additional information, and verify information he has on existing utilities, even if the utility provider does not utilize USIC for locating services. This clearly demonstrates his genuine concern and effort to go above and beyond the minimum required by law to aid in the identification, location, and protection of existing utilities.  We are about one year into the construction of a three-year water system upgrade project in Orange City and Mr. Godsey has worked with us since the beginning of this project. His presence and assistance on this project have been invaluable to us and utility providers to prevent damage and facilitate productive construction of our project.

Jacquelyn Martell was nominated by Rama Ruttala, Professional Service Industries, Inc. 

Jacquelyn has done a commendable job not only locating the utilities in the area of site assessment but also communicated very well that really helped us complete the job in a safe manner. Jacquelyn communicated with me on Friday, January 13, 2017, and informed me of the utilities in the area of concern. Jacquelyn communicated with me on January 17, 2017, and advised me that she'd like to meet us on-site January 18, 2017, and help mark/clear utilities in the area of concern. On January 18, 2017, Jacquelyn was on-site along with our team and marked the utilities, especially the underground power lines, located at approx. 9 ft and 19 ft below the ground surface which were feeding the nearby substation. Had Jacquelyn not located the underground power lines in the area of site assessment that we had proposed to install soil borings and monitoring wells, it would have been a disaster with dire consequences on our field staff and their families. I take this great opportunity to nominate Mrs. Jacquelyn Martell for doing such a wonderful job in a professional manner that helped us complete the job in a safe manner.

James Weaver was nominated by Scott Ersland, Nutting Engineers. 

James goes above and beyond the call of duty when locating underground utilities for us. As an example, he was leaving on a Friday afternoon for an engagement with his daughter and another of his co-workers had been helping out with the locates. Jim noticed just before leaving that there was a force main that had not been identified and he took the time to notify me. He left his cell number just in case there were further questions. This was not his responsibility to do that day, but he took the time at the expense of being late to his daughter's event to make sure we were safe.


We promote Safe Digging Month (you should too)

DEBARY, FL, (February 18, 2017) – This April marks the tenth annual National Safe Digging Month, reminding Florida residents to always call 811 two full business days before any digging project.

This initiative is designed to elevate the awareness of and prevention of digging-related damage to underground utilities. And it takes everyone working together to bring a single message to Florida, Know what’s below. Call 811 before you dig.

We offer a number of tools you can download and use free of charge. Tools like banners, a news release, social media messages and even a game to promote on your website. Here are just a few things you can do with the items you’ll find in the toolkit:

  • Spread our message on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networks. Make sure you use the hashtag #call811 and/or #nsdm.
  • Submit an op-ed to your local print/online paper.
  • Fly a free "Call 811 Before You Dig" banner in your city.
  • Publish a story in your newsletter.
  • Ask your city or county to issue a Safe Digging Month proclamation.
  • Place a Safe Digging Month button on your company website.
  • Send our news release to your media contacts.
  • Run 30-second PSA on your cable access channels.

Motivating excavators and homeowners to adopt the call-811-before-you-dig policy and practice safe digging will ultimately save lives and protect property and the environment.

We thank you in advance for your support of this initiative.

National Safe Digging Month is formally recognized by the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate and has traditionally earned the support from nearly every state governor across the country.