Digging without calling can be dangerous

A lot of people think unless you’re using heavy machinery, you’re clear to grab your shovel and get to work in your yard. That’s not the case because the law in Kentucky requires everyone to call 811 before a shovel hits the ground. 

Tim Vaughn, the director of external affairs for Kentucky 811, explained the number is the same nation-wide. It’s the same number to cut down on confusion. But even if you call and have your yard marked, it might not help if you don’t know what the mark means.

Lines are color-coded. Gas is marked with yellow, and water is marked with blue. For a complete list, click here. 

“The ones that scare me the most are natural gas and the fiber optic or the phone lines because of the emergency aspect of those,” Vaughn said. 

Vaughn said the biggest mistake people make is they don’t call, the second is they ignore the marks. 

“Just because you know where they are doesn’t mean you can dig them up,” he said. In fact, once a mark is on the ground there is a “safe zone” around it. No heavy machinery is allowed within 18 inches on either side of the mark. The area must be hand-dug. 

Not calling 811 can cost you more than time, even if you don’t hit anything. If you’re caught, you could face a fine between $250 and $5,000. Plus, if you do hit a line you’ll have to pay for repairs and any other damages. 

Vaughn said the easiest thing to do is call before you dig, but now there’s even an online option. 

To enter your dig ticket online, click here. 

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