JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Each year, August 11 serves as a reminder to call the ‘Call Before You Dig’ number, which is 811. Experts said you should always call the number prior to a digging project, no matter how big or small.

They said by calling the number, you could prevent injuries, property damage, service disruption and possible fines for damaged infrastructure.

“You’d be kind of surprised at how shallow some of the lines are that are out there that bury utilities. Everyone is expected to use the 811 system in order to have their utilities located before the start any type of project. That would be installing a mailbox, or putting up a fence, or something like that. If you don’t, you don’t want to be the guy that cuts the cable line right, so no one can watch the big game. They might hit a water line and cut off water service for a school, or even hit a gas line and put people at risk of escaping gas, so all of those things are risk that occur if we don’t use the 811 system,” explained Shane Alexander, director of Damage Prevention for CenterPoint Energy.

When homeowners or contractors call 811, the One Call Center automatically notifies local utilities. After a request is made, professional locators are sent to the dig site to mark the appropriate locations of underground lines with flags and spray paint.

If you hire a contractor, you should confirm that the contractor contacted 811.

“Just be prepared to have information for 811 to take. When you call, they’re going to collect information like where you’re going to be digging, what type of work you might be doing. Once you do all of that, they’re going to ask you about maybe the state and the county, the specific area. Next, they will provide you a ticket number. That ticket number will be distributed to all of the utilities, so they know to come out and locate them on your property or within your project. After that, a couple days later, marks will start showing up on the ground outside, and you can plan your project around it,” said Alexander.

Once a site has been accurately marked, you can begin planning your excavation. You should not allow work to begin if the lines are not marked. If the location of the project is near a utility line, consider relocating the project to another space.

“If you hit a water line or pipeline underground, first, get out of the area. Secondly, call 911 and your local gas company. We would come out and respond. We have people that are on call 24/7. They will respond immediately and start the safety protocols to prevent further damage,” explained Alexander.