Make Safety the Foundation of Your Home Improvement Project
Posted August 11, 2020
On National 811 Day, we’re reminding DIYers to dial before you dig!
After several months of coronavirus-imposed quarantine, Americans are mastering the art of stay-at-home. With all those extra hours of downtime, people confined to their houses and apartments are cooking, crafting, exercising and, apparently, remodeling.
This spring, sales surged for home improvement equipment and materials at retailers like Lowe’s and Home Depot, and recent polling from Bank of America shows that more than 70% of Americans have decided to tackle a DIY renovation project during the pandemic.
But whether you’re a professional contractor or simply a homeowner, carefully consider your personal safety and that of your property before getting started, particularly if the project requires breaking ground.
Before digging, always call 811 – or visit your state specific website – and request the location of all underground utilities. The federally mandated call-before-you-dig number is available to homeowners planning to install a mailbox, plant a tree or re-landscape your garden.
Within a few business days, a utility locator will arrive onsite to mark your property with flags or spray paint – at no cost to you. Once they’ve responded to your request, you can dig carefully around your home.
Underneath our neighborhoods, a complex network of pipelines, conduits and cables are buried only a few feet below the surface. According to the Common Ground Alliance, there are more than 20 million miles of underground utilities, including over 2.5 million miles of energy pipelines, in the U.S., and damaging these lines can cause injuries, create costly repairs and lead to outages of essential services, including electricity, gas, water and sewage, cable TV and high-speed internet.
The depth of utility lines can sometimes vary due to erosion, prior construction or uneven surfaces, and as a result, estimates indicate that an underground utility is damaged in the U.S. every nine minutes. But research also shows that by calling 811, homeowners and landscapers can reduce their risk of striking an underground line to less than 1%.
As a sector that oversees the operation of critical energy infrastructure, the natural gas and oil industry is committed to continuously improving the safety and sustainability of America’s pipeline network. Over the past five years, the industry has seen a 36% decrease in liquids pipeline incidents impacting people or the environment, even as pipeline mileage and barrels delivered increased, according to the latest performance reporting.
Energy pipelines remain the safest, most environmentally friendly way to deliver natural gas and oil for everyday use, helping meet the world’s growing demand for essential fuels while shrinking our environmental footprint. State-of-the-art standards and performance reporting guidelines support industry-wide performance and progress toward the goal of zero incidents.
In support of National 811 Day, API has offered free access to two relevant industry standards, API RP 1166,Excavation Monitoring And Observation and API RP 1109, Line Markers And Signage For Hazardous Liquid Pipelines And Facilities. These recommended practices protect the public and the environment by preventing damage to pipeline assets from excavation and digging activities.
We can protect ourselves, our neighbors and the environment by practicing careful digging and spreading awareness about the importance of 811. Make safety the foundation of your DIY project, and call before you dig!
About The Author
Sam Winstel is a writer for the American Petroleum Institute. He comes to API from Edelman, where he supported communications marketing strategies for clients across the firm’s energy and federal government practices. Originally from Dallas, Texas, Sam graduated from Davidson College in North Carolina, and he currently resides in Washington, D.C.
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