Call 811 before you dig, so you don’t have to call 911 after

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NOBLESVILLE, Ind. -- Excavators, utility workers and EMS personnel gathered Wednesday to learn more about the dangers of digging when you don't call 811 and get underground utilities marked.

"People just need to know there’s a maze of utilities we use every day right underneath your feet," Darby Miller with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission said.  “You need to call 811 (before you dig) so you don’t have to call 911 later, because it can be a serious consequence if you don’t follow the simple, free service."

Indiana 811 is a non-profit organization that services anyone who needs to dig. The agency mainly deals with contractors and excavators, and on its busiest days in the spring, can get more than 6,000 requests for utility mapping.

“There can be very grave consequences if you don’t call before you dig," 811 Spokesperson Chuck Muller said. "It can be just as simple as you cut the neighborhood phone line and you can’t call 911 and there's a death or something occurs."

Indiana 811 and the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission held an event Wednesday at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds where they showed attendees what happens when a gas line is struck. Organizers had the Noblesville Fire Department respond to the scene and work with Vectren employees on how to handle these situations.

They say while the general public won't deal with 811 on a daily basis, anyone who plans to dig more than 12 inches into the ground is required by law to call 811 and get the utilities marked.

"Professionals will come to your home and they will put paint, flags, stakes in the ground of the approximate location of where all your buried utilities are then you dig carefully around those marks," Darby said.

Calling 811 is even required for home improvement projects like a new deck, pool or mailbox.

“People don’t see themselves as excavators and they think they really don’t fall into that category, but they do because they are digging into the ground," Muller said.

In addition to calling 811, you can request underground utilities to be mapped online at 811now.com.