811 is the national call-before-you-dig phone number. Anyone who plans to dig should call 811 or go to their state 811 center's website two to three business days before digging. Professional locators are then sent — for free — to the requested dig site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags, paint or both so that you don't dig into and damage an underground utility line.

Always contact your 811 center, wait the required time for utilities to respond to your request, and ensure that all utilities have responded to your request before digging in the ground.

A homeowner using a shovel and a professional excavator using an earthmover are required by state law to call 811.

Mike Rowe encourages you to get dirty

...while digging.

Just contact 811 first!

Say Hello to micro Mike Rowe

We want to spread the word to contact 811 before you dig, and guess what? The National Excavator Initiative is right there with us in the trenches and is bringing along executive producer, host, bestselling author, podcaster and skilled-trades advocate Mike Rowe and his animated alter ego, "Micro Mike Rowe."

Known for the hit TV series, “Dirty Jobs,” “Deadliest Catch” and his groundbreaking Facebook show, “Returning the Favor,” Rowe and his animated sidekick highlight the importance of the pipes, wires and cables buried underground. With some earthy humor, they share what can — and likely will — go wrong if homeowners and contractors don't contact 811 before digging.

Mike Rowe has gas. Listen here.

Dig with C.A.R.E.

Calling 811 before digging on any property is the law.

Southern Company Gas encourages homeowners and contractors to follow these safe digging guidelines and always dig with C.A.R.E.:

  • Call Before You Dig: Before starting any outdoor digging project, customers should contact 811 at least three days in advance to request to have underground utility lines marked. Requests to have utility operators locate underground lines, including natural gas, electric, water, sewer, telephone and cable lines, can be made 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The service is free.
  • Allow the Required Time for Marking: After contacting 811, wait for underground utility lines to be marked before digging. Locators will mark the approximate location of buried lines with color-coded spray paint, flags or stakes corresponding to the utility. The color used for natural gas is yellow.
  • Respect the Marks: Once the lines are marked, only use hand digging tools to carefully uncover the area around a utility line. When you need to dig near location markers use the appropriate digging methods and hand dig within 24 inches of the marked utility lines. This will help prevent any damage to underground utility lines.
  • Excavate Carefully: Make sure the marks remain visible during the project. If the lines are damaged or removed, customers are encouraged to contact 811 to have lines remarked. Excavation work, including hand digging with a spade or shovel or plowing around a home or business is the most common cause of natural gas emergencies. If a natural gas line is damaged accidentally or the distinct odor of natural gas (rotten eggs) is present, call 911 from a safe location. Do not operate any machinery or any equipment that might cause a spark.

Additional links

Check out these links for additional information about safe digging: