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National 811 Day (8/11) serves as convenient reminder to ALWAYS call VA811 before digging

An underground utility line is damaged every three minutes across the United States

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.— Aug. 10, 2020— Since the beginning of March when millions of Americans began to shelter in place due to the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the number of outdoor home improvement projects has increased across the country and southeastern Virginia. Whether planting a tree or installing a new mailbox or fence, knowing the location of buried utilities help prevent property damage, inconvenient service outages and most importantly, personal injuries.

With the approach of August 11, Virginia Natural Gas reminds customers across the region that the date, 8/11, serves as an important reminder to always call VA811 before starting any outdoor digging project.

“On August 11 and throughout the year, we remind homeowners and professional contractors alike to call 811 before digging to eliminate the risk of striking any underground utilities,” said Rus Hayslett, vice president of Operations at Virginia Natural Gas. “Contractors and homeowners do not have to be present when utility lines are marked, nor converse with the workers to show where to make the locate marks. This provides both peace of mind with the current social distancing guidelines and for completing the project safely.”

No matter if you are a homeowner with a shovel or a professional excavator with an earthmover, everyone must Call 811 Before You Dig.  State law requires the call to prevent damage to critical infrastructure such as natural gas lines, electric, water, sewer or fiber optic cable.

According to Common Ground Alliance, a national organization focused on protecting underground utilities across the country, every three minutes in the United States, meaning 20 times an hour, an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without first calling 811.

Striking a single line can cause injury, repair costs, fines and inconvenient outages from one customer to an entire neighborhood, business park or factory. Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a call to 811.

When calling 811, homeowners and contractors are connected to Virginia 811. Virginia 811 notifies the appropriate utility companies of the intent to dig. Professional locators are then sent to the requested dig site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags, paint or both.

Virginia Natural Gas encourages homeowners and contractors to follow the below safe digging guidelines and always dig with C.A.R.E.:

  • Call or Click Before You DigWhen starting an outdoor digging project, customers are advised to dial 811 or visit to request to have underground utility lines marked at least three days in advance. Requests to have utility operators mark underground lines, including natural gas, electric, water, sewer, telephone and cable lines, can be made 24-hours a day, seven days a week and is a free service. 
  • Allow the Required Time for Marking: After contacting Virginia 811, wait the required time to have underground utility lines marked before digging. The approximate location of underground utility lines will be marked with color-coded spray paint, flags or stakes that correspond to the utility. The color used for natural gas is yellow. 
  • Respect the MarksOnly use hand digging tools to carefully uncover the area around a utility line when you need to dig close by.
  • Excavate CarefullyMake sure the marks remain visible during the project. If the lines are damaged or removed, customers are encouraged to contact Virginia 811 to have lines remarked.

If a natural gas line is damaged accidentally or the distinctive rotten-egg odor associated with natural gas is present, call 911 or the Virginia Natural Gas 24-hour emergency phone line at 1-877-572-3342 from a safe location. Do not operate any machinery or equipment that might cause a spark or create an open flame.

Learn more about natural gas safety at


About Virginia Natural Gas
Virginia Natural Gas is one of four natural gas distribution companies of Southern Company Gas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO). Virginia Natural Gas provides natural gas service to nearly 300,000 customers in southeast Virginia. Virginia Natural Gas has been recognized as one of the safest, most reliable and customer-focused natural gas service providers and is consistently ranked in the top quartile for customer satisfaction by J.D. Power and Associates. In 2018, Virginia Natural Gas was named Local Distribution Company of the Year by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy and the Virginia Oil and Gas Association for the third consecutive year. For more information, visit and connect with the company on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About Southern Company Gas
Southern Company Gas is a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE:SO), America’s premier energy company.  Southern Company Gas serves approximately 4.2 million natural gas utility customers through its regulated distribution companies in four states and approximately 700,000 retail customers through its companies that market natural gas. Other nonutility businesses include investments in interstate pipelines, asset management for natural gas wholesale customers and ownership and operation of natural gas storage facilities. For more information, visit

Media Contact:
Rick DelaHaya
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