Southern California Gas Co. is reminding customers to call 811 before they dig, whether in the garden or at construction sites. Calling 811 or Underground Service Alert may help them avoid possible injury or damage to hidden gas lines or service interruption, the utility says.

Even such “minor projects” as putting up a new wall or fence, building a deck, planting or removing large trees or any other renovations can result in damage to gas lines if they aren’t located prior to the work.

“Since gas lines that serve homes and businesses are located underground and out of sight, customers won’t know where they are located. We urge our customers–whether digging at their businesses or homes–to make the quick 811 phone call to Underground Service Alert to have utility-owned lines marked for free,” said Bret Lane, vice president of field services for SoCalGas.

Last year, there were 2,296 customer and contractor “dig-ins” or preventable accidents that the utility will decrease this year through increased public awareness.

Customers are advised to call 811 to reach Underground Service Alert at least two working days before any digging project is to begin.

Underground Service Alert will contact SoCalGas and other area utilities.

Each utility will then locate and mark the underground pipes they own. SoCalGas-owned pipelines typically extend from the gas main, in front or behind the home or business, to the gas meter.

Customer-owned gas pipes are the lines that run from the gas meter to the building or area where gas-fueled equipment or appliances are located. To have these customer-owned lines located and marked before a project, SoCalGas advises its customers to call pipe and leak locating service companies or licensed plumbing contractors who provide maintenance services.

“Once all lines are marked, customers should carefully use only hand-digging tools within two feet on each side of marked gas lines,” Lane added.

If a customer causes what seems to be only minor damage to a pipeline or a component attached to a pipeline, they should call SoCalGas immediately at 1-800-427-2200.