April is National Safe Digging Month
NAPERVILLE, Ill. – April 1, 2019 – With spring here and the ground ready for digging, Nicor Gas is committed to enhancing the safety of homeowners and excavators as they gear up to start outdoor projects. Whether putting in a fence, planting a tree or building a deck, knowing where the utility lines are before you dig helps prevent injuries, property damage and inconvenient utility outages.
Nationwide, an underground utility line is damaged once every six minutes because someone decided to dig without first calling 811, according to Common Ground Alliance. CGA is a national advocacy organization focused on preventing damage to underground infrastructure.
In Illinois, calling 811 connects to JULIE (Joint Utility Locating Information for Excavators), which notifies the appropriate utility companies of the intent to dig. Utility representatives are then sent, free of charge, to the requested digging sites to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags or spray paint. If Nicor Gas has natural gas pipelines in the area, their approximate location will be marked with yellow paint and/or flags. Once all lines have been marked, it is important that residents and excavators respect the marks and use the appropriate tools to dig with care and according to legal, safe digging practices. For information on safe digging best practices and other valuable damage prevention information, refer to recommendations outlined by the Common Ground Alliance at commongroundalliance.com/programs/best-practices.
To protect underground utilities and to help ensure that communities stay safe and connected, Nicor Gas is providing homeowners and professional excavators with the following safe digging guidelines:
- Call or Click Before You Dig: When starting an outdoor digging project, customers are advised to contact JULIE by dialing 811 or visiting Illinois1call.com to request to have underground utility lines marked at least two business days in advance. Requests to have utility operators mark underground lines, including natural gas, electric, water, sewer, telephone and cable lines, can be made 24-hours a day, seven days a week and is free.
- Allow the Required Time for Marking: After contacting JULIE, wait the required 48 business hour timeframe to have underground utility lines marked before digging. The approximate location of underground utility lines will be marked with color-coded spray paint, flags or stakes that correspond to the utility. The color used for natural gas is yellow.
- Respect the Marks: Only use hand digging tools to carefully uncover the area around a utility line when you need to dig close by.
- Excavate Carefully: Make sure the marks remain visible during the project. If the lines are damaged or removed, customers are encouraged to contact JULIE to have lines remarked. If a natural gas line is damaged accidentally or the distinctive rotten egg odor associated with natural gas is present, call 911 or the Nicor Gas 24-hour emergency phone line at 1-888-Nicor4U (888-642-6748) from a safe location. Do not operate any machinery or equipment that might cause a spark or open flame.
For more information about natural gas safety, visit nicorgas.com/safety.
About Nicor Gas
Nicor Gas is one of four natural gas distribution companies of Southern Company Gas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO). Nicor Gas serves more than 2.2 million customers in a service territory that encompasses most of the northern third of Illinois, excluding the city of Chicago. For more information, visit www.nicorgas.com.
About Southern Company Gas
Southern Company Gas is a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE: SO), America’s premier energy company. Southern Company Gas serves approximately 4.2 million natural gas utility customers through its regulated distribution companies in four states and 774,000 retail customers through its companies that market natural gas and related home services. Other nonutility businesses include investments in interstate pipelines, asset management for natural gas wholesale customers and ownership and operation of natural gas storage facilities. For more information, visit www.southerncompanygas.com.
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