Outdoor warming makes for an ideal time to dig up trees or bushes.

Before you put a shovel in the ground, know where utility lines are buried. April is Safe Digging Month, and we encourage do-it-yourselfers to first phone Indiana’s call-before-you-dig number, 811.

A study released in 2013 suggests many won’t.

A national survey of 624 homeowners, conducted Feb. 28 through March 5 by Common Ground Alliance, found 48% of those polled would not call 811 in advance of a digging project.

Today, however, you can “click before you dig.” Indiana 811 launched “811Now” the summer of 2014, an online service allowing Hoosiers to request utilities mark underground lines by way of a simple, online form.

Failure of some to locate underground utilities before digging results in more than 256,000 incidents of utility damage across the U.S. each year, according to NIPSCO. That’s an average of 700 occurrences per day.

Before beginning a digging project, Indiana 811 offers the following recommendations:

• Always call 811 or visit indiana811.org/811now before digging, regardless of the depth or familiarity with the property.

• Tell neighbors, co-workers, family and friends about 811 if they discuss their plans for an outdoor tree- or shrub-removal project with you.

• Plan ahead — Indiana 811 is always open. Just make sure you call or fill out the online form at least two working days in advance of your project start date. This gives the utility companies time to find and mark buried lines on your property.

• Avoid starting projects until you’re sure all lines are marked. If you’re unsure, confirm all lines have been marked by contacting Indiana 811.

• If your excavation is within 2 feet of the marked facility, you must only use hand tools with extreme caution.

• If a contractor has been hired, confirm the 811Now online form has been completed or a call to 811 has been made.

Visit www.indiana811.org for more information, and don’t forget to call, or click, before you dig.

The Kokomo Tribune

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