WILLIAMSVILLE — In recognition of National 8/11 Day on Aug. 11, National Fuel reminded homeowners and professional contractors to Call Before You Dig.

Before starting any excavation projects this year, call 811, a toll-free national phone number, or visit www.call811.com. New York state law requires residents and contractors to call 811 at least two but no more than 10 business days in advance of the start of their projects in order to prevent accidental damage to underground utility lines.

The national 811 phone number connects callers with local One Call Centers. Operators record the excavation locations and notify National Fuel of callers’ plans. National Fuel then dispatches professional locators to mark the approximate locations of its lines. It’s a fast, easy way to protect yourself and those around you. When a locate request for utility lines precedes an excavation, damage is avoided 99 percent of the time.

“All excavation projects– even small or shallow digging landscaping projects like planting trees and shrubs, or installing a fence or mailbox require a call,” said Emily Ciraolo, spokesperson for National Fuel. “Many of the pipeline leaks and emergencies we respond to each year occur when homeowners and businesses dig on their properties without knowing the location of underground utility lines. These types of accidents can be easily avoided by calling 811, a free service for homeowners, before digging.”

The Common Ground Alliance (CGA), a national association representing the utility industry and committed to saving lives and preventing damage to underground infrastructure, states that:

• There are more than 20 million miles of underground utilities in the U.S.

• Every six minutes an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without first calling 811.

• When you make the call to 811, damage occurs less than 1 percent of the time.

As always, if you smell gas, leave fast! If a rotten-egg natural gas odor is present, leave the premises immediately and call National Fuel's emergency line, 1-800-444-3130, from a different location. If you smell gas outdoors, call National Fuel’s emergency number and provide the address nearest to the site of the odor.

National Fuel provides natural gas service to more than 740,000 customers in Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania. For more information, visit www.nationalfuelgas.com.