April is recognized across the U.S. as National Safe Digging Month. As the April showers wind down and the May flowers sprout up, it is important to keep in mind the lessons learned from National Safe Digging Month.

While spring can be a great time for gardening and backyard projects, being aware of subsurface infrastructure is incredibly important for your safety and convenience, as well as the safety and convenience of  your neighbors. Calling 811 is a crucial first step for any backyard project, big or small.

Through National Safe Digging Month and Aii’s Modern Roots March, you now know that 811 is the free, nationally designated number to call before you dig. Calling 811 (or using an online ticket request) is the safest and most effective way to safely complete a digging project, not to mention, it’s the law!

It is estimated that over $30 billion is lost every year due to damages to underground infrastructure. Additionally, the Infrastructure Protection Coalition estimates that an additional $61 billion is lost in “waste, inefficiency, and excess costs.” Physical dangers of striking underground utilities can include shock, electrocution, or even an explosion or fire.

Though awareness of 811 has grown over time, a study by the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) shows that half the U.S. population is not aware of 811.  This is perhaps the leading reason why homeowners dig without calling 811 and end up cutting their own cable, internet, power, water, or natural gas services. Other reasons homeowners don’t call 811 are being unaware of the risks, thinking their project is too small, thinking 811 is for professional excavators, or thinking 811 will delay the project.

As National Safe Digging Month wraps up, you’ve now gained the knowledge to break through the hesitancies of calling 811, because you now know the importance of calling before you dig. So, as you storyboard spring projects, make sure that calling 811 is top of mind. Whether your project is small, like planting a tree, or big, like building a fence or shed, calling 811 should always be step number one!

To learn more about excavation safety, visit Aii’s damage prevention issue page.

Written by John Cassibry, Media Coordinator


The Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure (Aii) is an independent, national research and educational organization. An innovative think tank, Aii explores the intersection of economics, law, and public policy in the areas of climate, damage prevention, energy, infrastructure, innovation, technology, and transportation.