April marks the traditional start of New England outdoor work, tasks that often involve digging. Whether it is a small one-day project or a large home improvement effort, National Grid reminds everyone to call 811 before starting any digging. It’s not only the safe thing to do, it’s the law.

April is national “Safe Digging Month,” and National Grid urges the public to call Dig Safe ® (by dialing 811) to prevent serious personal injury, property damage and service interruptions caused by accidentally digging into electric, gas, telephone, water, sewer or cable facilities.

Dig Safe serves as a single point of contact to notify National Grid and other participating utilities of planned digging, drilling or blasting. The utilities will clearly mark their buried facilities prior to the start of excavation to ensure customer safety and to prevent damage. The depth of utility lines varies, and there may be multiple utility lines in one common area. A quick phone call to 811 several days before digging connects callers to an operator at a local One Call Center who will provide information on when participating utilities must clearly mark their underground equipment. The service is free of charge.

In 2017, there were 437,688 dig safe tickets called into National Grid in New England between electric and gas. Of these, 243,174 were gas tickets. There were 153 damages to gas lines or electric lines that were caused because there was no request for Dig Safe.

Every nine minutes an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without first calling 811.The risk of injury or even death is serious. Beyond the devastating risks of death or injury, consider the costs of repair, fines, and even inconvenience. From putting in a fence, planting a tree, or building a deck, knowing where the power and water lines before you dig will save a lot of time, money and pain later.

National Grid also offers these precautions about underground energy services:

- Never permit anyone to dig near your underground energy sources.
- Do not plant trees, bushes or shrubs near a natural gas line or meters.
- Never allow children to dig anywhere near underground natural gas lines.

If You Suspect a Natural Gas Leak, Call National Grid because “dig ins” are a leading cause of natural gas leaks, National Grid reminds customers to take the following safety actions anytime a gas leak is suspected:

- Evacuate your home and move to a safe area.
- Do NOT smoke, light matches or do anything to create a flame.
- Do NOT touch any light switches or electrical equipment and do NOT pull any plugs from outlets. These items may produce a spark that might ignite the gas and cause an explosion.

If you have a gas range or oven, make sure the controls are turned OFF. Extinguish any easily accessible open flames such as lit candles, but never try to put out a fire you suspect may be caused by escaping gas. Leave immediately.

Do NOT assume someone else will report the condition. Call 911 and National Grid’s gas emergency number from a safe location: Massachusetts: 1-800-233-5325.

This is a dedicated Gas Emergency phone number. National Grid has crews on call 24 hours/7 days a week who will respond immediately.

- Provide the exact location, including cross streets.
- Let us know if construction or digging activities are going on in the area.
- Do not return to your home until National Grid tells you it is safe.

(press release sent to WSBS from National Grid for online and on-air use)