Do you know what’s below?

Most people don’t think about the fact that there are more than 20 million miles of underground pipes in the United States. But in the Garden State alone, PSE&G has 35,000 miles of gas lines running just inches below our feet.

Without locating and marking utility lines before digging, you could hit one and cause costly damage, serious injury, or knock out service to an entire neighborhood. In a worst case scenario, it can lead to a gas explosion.

Our crews respond to almost 700 gas line damages every year, and it’s by far the biggest threat to our system. Thankfully, they are preventable by dialing just three digits.

Tip: if you’re thinking of digging on a weekend, call Monday or Tuesday. The marks will be valid for 45 business days.

When you call 811 before planting a tree or building a new deck, you’re automatically connected to NJ’s One Call Center. They will schedule a representative from each utility to “mark out” the location of underground lines within 3 business days. The lines are pinpointed by paint on the street or small flags/paint on the lawn. This service is free and critical to avoiding damage.

Every 6 minutes, an underground pipeline is accidentally damaged. Here’s what you can do to help:

CALL 811 at least 3 full business days before putting a shovel to the dirt. Respect the marks, and dig around them (not on them). Always carefully hand dig and locate the facilities within 2 feet of marked lines.

CHECK to see if your contractor has called 811, too. Don’t allow work to begin if the lines aren’t marked, and don’t assume they have called.

REMEMBER both large and small projects require a call – whether you’re installing a mailbox, planting a new vegetable garden, or putting in a pool.

REPORT a damaged gas line immediately by calling 911 and then PSE&G at 1-800-880-7734. Leave the area and make sure everyone is safe.

Calling before you dig only takes a few minutes. Don’t put yourselves or others at risk. Always make the call and put safety first!

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Chris LaRossa, District Manager, Regulatory Policy & Procedure, PSE&G

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