Gov. DeSantis declares April 'Safe Digging Month' in Florida

Florida residents reminded to call 811 before digging

Visit our toolkit for items that you can use to help get the word out about 811! Click the graphic.

Visit our toolkit for items that you can use to help get the word out about 811! Click the graphic.

Yesterday, Gov. Ron DeSantis declared April to be Safe Digging Month in Florida. It serves to remind homeowners and professional excavators to always call 811 before every project that involves digging so buried utility lines can be located.

It’s an important message when you consider an underground utility line in Florida was damaged approximately every 30 minutes, according to Florida DIRT data for calendar year 2018 which totaled 16,576 incidents.

Calling 811 connects you to Sunshine 811, the center that takes the dig site information and sends it to local utility companies. Utility locators then clear, let you know if more information is needed, or mark the approximate locations of underground lines with spray paint, flags or both. Once lines are accurately marked or cleared, digging can begin.

“Using the 811 service is free,” explains Sunshine 811 Executive Director Mark Sweet, “and it’s something homeowners and excavators are required to do by law.”

Yet a recent national survey conducted in March by the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) revealed that 42 percent of homeowners planning to plant a tree or shrub; build a patio, deck or fence; or install a mailbox, will put themselves and their communities at risk by not using 811.

“I find those statistics alarming,” Sweet states. “Digging without using the 811 process can cause service outages, costly repairs and even serious injuries when gas, electric or communications lines are hit.”

And do-it-yourselfers have been known to dig into electric, telephone and gas lines while landscaping or setting new fence posts.

We enthusiastically join Gov. DeSantis in urging individuals and companies to call 811 before they begin digging. Calling 811 to have underground lines marked is making an important decision to keep communities safe and connected.

Encourage family, friends and neighbors to use the 811 service and remember the following:

  • Every project that involves digging requires 811, even small projects, shallow projects, and projects that use only hand tools.

  • If a contractor was hired, confirm that a call to Sunshine 811 at 811 was made and make sure no work is done until all lines are cleared or marked.

  • Call 811 on Tuesday to dig during the upcoming weekend. For homeowners that prefer to do things online, we have Single Address Ticket at sunshine811.com.

  • Consider moving your project if it’s near utility line markings.

  • Confirm that all lines have been cleared or marked using Sunshine 811’s Positive Response System.

  • Public utilities, those notified by Sunshine 811, do not locate privately-owned lines. Private lines are often those running from a meter to a house or lines from the house to an outbuilding, pool or other separate structure. Take necessary precautions to avoid damaging these lines when digging.