During the summer months, home improvements are a common sight. But if your home improvement projects include planting a tree, landscaping or plumbing, don’t forget to call 811 before you start digging and avoid hitting underground utilities such as electric or gas.

“What starts as an afternoon project in your backyard could turn into a major safety event,” said Bill Messner, principal manager for corporate environmental health and safety at Southern California Edison (SCE). “You could put out the lights for your neighbors, it could cause property damage, life-threatening injuries or even death.”

Aug. 11 is National 8-1-1 Day and the campaign is teaming up with utilities to remind customers to call 811 before every digging job so underground utility lines are marked for free and undesired consequences like power outages can be avoided.

For projects that require digging — like installing a deck or fence or planting a shrub — SCE customers can call 811 at least two days priors to have utility lines marked, even if you’ve called before on a similar project.

Your home improvement project may have electric, gas, sewer pipes or other services buried below and the depth of the utility lines may vary. Having marked lines can help you know what’s underground.  . 

The service is free, helps protect your safety and it is required by law, regardless of whether you’re a homeowner or contractor.

Messner says using the free service can help customers stay safe while making home improvements.

“Please still be cautious even while you dig,” he said. “The markings are only guidelines to keep you safe, so always be careful while you go about your home improvement projects.”

The 8-1-1 Dig campaign was launched by the Common Ground Alliance, an association created to work with all industry stakeholders to prevent damage to underground utility infrastructure and ensure public safety and environmental protection.

For more information, visit www.SCE.com/safety or www.call811.com.