It is extremely important that everyone dial 811 before they dig so that operators of underground utilities and pipelines can mark the location of buried lines to make them easier to avoid.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has proclaimed the month of April as “Safe Digging Month” in Louisiana as part of a nationwide safety awareness campaign to draw attention to the thousands of miles of buried infrastructure throughout our state and the importance of safe excavation. It is extremely important that everyone dial 811 before they dig so that operators of underground utilities and pipelines can mark the location of buried lines to make them easier to avoid. Louisiana One Call answers these calls as a public service and notifies member operators of nearby underground facilities free of charge. Louisiana One Call provides the same service via the Internet at www.laonecall.com.

The issue is so important that state law requires all excavators and demolishers to notify Louisiana One Call before they begin work. The law applies to individuals as well as contractors, municipalities and others. Failure to call can subject the excavator to fines and liability for damages to buried infrastructure.

Once again this year, Louisiana One Call and media outlets throughout the state are cooperating to publish and broadcast public service announcements this spring asking everyone to "Call 811 Before You Dig."

Whether you’re digging a garden, putting up a fence or building a highway, the first step is a call to 811 or go online so that professional locators can mark the location of buried lines. It is easy, free, and it helps prevent service interruptions and personal injuries. It’s also the law in Louisiana.

· Call two full workdays before you begin to dig

· Wait for the site to be marked

· Respect the marks

· Always dig with care, especially near the marks

Contributed by Diane Allen and Associates