(ANGIE'S LIST) - Utility and communications companies are urging people to dial 811 before starting a project that requires digging in their yards.
A quick phone call could prevent damage to utility lines, and physical injury to homeowners.
Khrysanne Kerr works for Common Ground Alliance.
"Every six minutes, a utility line is damaged in the United States, and you really don't think about it unless it happens to you," Kerr says. "Unless you're the guy on Super Bowl Sunday who can't watch the game. Unless it's 110 degrees outside and you have no power."
"It's surprising how many people forget to have utilities marked if they're going to be digging in their yard. It simply requires dialing 811 and allowing three days to have the company come out and mark your utilities," says Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List.
Nearly half of all American homeowners are planning an outdoor project this year, but if they don't dial 811 first, they could risk physical injury, liability and hefty fines.
"By notifying that utility, they will come out and mark the approximate location with paint or flags and therefore you can stay away from your buried electric lines, your natural gas line or that fiber optic line or telecommunications line that's going to keep you away from Facebook," Kerr says.
"Even if you're hiring someone to put that new patio in or build a fence for you, you still want to make sure that they're having the utilities marked, and if they're not, don't let them dig until they are marked," Hicks says.
And you need to make that call to 811, whether you live in the city or a rural area according to Kerr.
"A lot of times, major transportation pipelines are buried in those rural areas because no one would be digging around them. It's safe for a community. So whether it's rural or urban, make that call to 811," Kerr says.
Making the call will cost you nothing. Not making the call, could cost you everything.