April is National Safe Digging Month and Southern California Gas Co. is reminding residents and businesses to call 811 to have utility-owned lines marked before digging in the garden or at construction sites. Calling 811 or Underground Service Alert will help avoid possible injury or damage to hidden gas lines or service interruption.

A utility line is damaged by digging once every three minutes nationwide, and many of these incidents are caused by failure of the professional excavator or homeowner to call 811 before beginning their digging project. Even if relatively minor projects are involved, such as putting up a new wall or fence, building a deck, planting or removing large trees or any other renovations, the digging necessary for these projects can result in hitting 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, residents and business owners won’t know where they are located. We urge everyone, 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, senior vice president of gas operations and system integrity for SoCalGas.

Before digging, residents and business owners should mark the proposed excavation area, and call 811 to reach Underground Service Alert at least two business days before the project is to begin. Underground Service Alert is free and they will contact SoCalGas and other area utilities. Each utility will then locate and mark the underground lines, pipes and cables they own.

Even a slight gouge, scrape or dent to a pipeline or coating may cause a dangerous break or leak in the future. If a customer causes what seems to be only minor damage to a pipeline or a component attached to a pipeline, they should call at 1-800-427-2200.