Local agencies raise awareness about safe digging

Local News

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Local agencies raised awareness about the importance of safe digging on Monday.

The Bakersfield Fire Department, Kern County Fire Department, Southern California Gas Co. (SoCal Gas) and the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) held a press conference to discuss the safety concerns.

During the pandemic, more people started projects in their homes or lawn that required digging and excavation. The local agencies note that by law you are required to call 811 before starting a project that requires excavation. Projects include planting trees, installing a fence, building a pool, etc. Underground utility lines need to be marked so they are not accidentally hit when digging. PG&E spokesperson Katie Allen says coming in contact with their lines can lead to serious injuries.

“We have customers and contractors who come in contact with our lines and that can lead to injury, very dangerous damage to the facilities, as well as unfortunately sometimes death,” Allen said.

SoCal Gas, PG&E and other utilities will identify underground facilities in your area for free.

Safe Digging Tips, according to local agencies :

  • Call 811 or go online for an Underground Service Alert (USA) ticket at least two working days before digging: Be prepared to provide the address and general location of the project, project start date and type of digging activity.
  • Dig safely: Use hand tools when digging within 24 inches of the outside edge of underground utility lines. Leave utility flags, stakes or paint marks in place until the project is finished. Backfill and compact the soil.
  • Mind the lines: If the utility line is visible, dig in parallel with the utility line and use all precautions when removing the soil from around the utility line.
  • Be aware of signs of a natural gas leak: Smell for a “rotten egg” odor, listen for hissing, whistling or roaring sounds and look for dirt spraying into the air, bubbling in a pond or creek and dead/dying vegetation in an otherwise moist area.

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