Spring is here and as the days grow warmer and longer, outdoor projects become a priority. That’s why every year, Congress declares April as National Safe Digging Month to serve as a reminder to be prepared before you start digging.

Utility lines, including phone, cable, or gas, can be buried inches below the surface of your yard. It’s important to have hidden lines marked prior to digging for the safety of you and your home. Accidental damage to a buried line can cause inconvenient disruptions to your services, require costly repairs, or inflict serious harm.

Steps to take before you dig

  1. Contact 811. 811 is the national call-before-you-dig number. Every yard project that requires digging, no matter how big or small, warrants a free, painless call to 811. Calling this number connects you to your local one-call utility notification center and/or you can check out your state 811 center website.
  2. Gather the necessary information. Beyond giving the address of where you plan to dig, you’ll also be asked to provide the county and nearest cross street, as well as the type of project and the area on the property where you’re planning to dig. Requesting that the approximate location of buried utilities be marked with paint or flags will save you from unintentionally digging into an underground utility line.
  3. Plan ahead. Remember to call 811 or input a request online a few business days prior to digging, even for common projects like planting trees or installing fences. The specific amount of advance notice that you are required to provide varies by state.
  4. Keep track of your ticket. Upon your request, you will receive a ticket number and specific instructions for when utilities must respond, as well as how to receive confirmation that you can begin digging.
  5. Wait for utilities to mark. Utility companies will then send out a locator to your dig site to mark the approximate location of buried utilities with color-coded markings. This marking system is meant to safely identify, locate, and protect buried lines for both you and utility personnel. Using paint, flags, or stakes, certain colors indicate different utilities, including yellow for gas lines and red for electric power lines. Check out additional color codes for locator marks here.

Once you’ve called 811, waiting for line markings, and confirmed that all the necessary utilities fulfilled your request, you can get your hands dirty – with caution!

What to do if you hit a TDS cable line

If you end up hitting a buried line and aren’t sure what it connects to, it is always safest to call 911. Reminder: disturbing any line while digging can knock out service for you or your neighborhood or cause serious injury.

If you know you’ve hit a TDS line, the first course of action is to contact us. For necessary repairs and support, our line is open 24/7 at 1-888-225-5837. In the event that hitting the line impacts your service, we’ll send out a technician to restore the connection.

Our cables are sturdy but not indestructible. Depending on which of our lines you hit, it’s smart to be aware of varying safety concerns. Slicing a fiber line poses no danger of electric shock for kids or pets, but it’s best to keep out of the way until it’s further assessed.

Copper lines on the other hand carry a bit of voltage, so if you come into contact proceed with caution by giving the line a safe distance and keeping yourself and any small beings away from the frayed ends.

As drop lines vary by municipality, some utility lines may be buried at a shallow depth and can be disrupted if you dig directly on the marks rather than around them. 811 guidelines recommend that holes or trenches should be kept at least 18 inches away from either side of marked lines.

Save yourself and your wallet the pain by simply calling 811 before you dig.

Do you have a TDS Fiber cable in your yard ready to be buried? Learn more about when our contractors will be back to install here.

Written by Celia Reid, TDS Communications Intern

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