MERRILLVILLE — April has been proclaimed Safe Digging Month in the state of Indiana. NIPSCO is reminding customers and contractors to always call 811 at least two business days prior to starting any digging project. Making this free call will ensure the dig site is marked with paint or flags where the approximate underground public utility lines are located.

Calling 811 is critical for your safety and can reduce the risk of serious injury. It’s also the law. Not calling could result in fines up to $10,000 and the cost to repair any damages.

Last year, NIPSCO reported over 969 instances where diggers struck their gas lines. Of those, 40 percent occurred because the person digging did not know, or failed to call 811. There is a 99 percent chance that there will not be any damage when completing a project if you call 811 prior to digging.

Whether you’re installing a mailbox, planting trees or performing any other outdoor digging project, NIPSCO encourages you to take the following steps:

• Always call 811 or enter a request online at 811NOW.com two business days before the start of any digging project.

• Tell neighbors, coworkers, family and friends about 811 if they discuss their plans for an outdoor home improvement project with you.

• Plan ahead – Indiana 811 is always open. Just make sure you call at least two business days in advance of your project start date.

• Avoid starting projects until you’re sure all lines have been marked. When you call 811, you will hear a list of companies that should respond.

• Choose another location on the property for a project if the original planned site is near utility line markings.

• If your excavation is within two feet of any marked facility, only use hand tools or vacuum excavation with extreme caution.

• If you have hired a contractor to complete your project, confirm that he or she has made a call to 811 before doing any digging. Don’t allow work to begin if the lines aren’t marked.

• After the site has been accurately marked, it is safe to begin digging carefully around the marked areas.

Digging without knowing the approximate location of underground utilities can result in damage to gas, electric, communications, water and sewer lines, which can lead to service disruptions and serious injuries.

By calling 811, a trained utility line locator will visit the dig site to mark the approximate location of underground public utility lines with paint or flags. Each color of paint and/or flag represents a unique type of underground utility. The color code guide can tell you which colors indicate which type of utility and where to avoid digging. The utility flags may be removed once the project is fully complete. See the complete color code guide at NIPSCO.com/811.

NIPSCO utilizes two outside companies to assist with marking underground facilities for customers — GridHawk and Utiliquest. Thanks to an enhanced offering, NIPSCO customers will now receive an electronic confirmation that their requested project area has been located.

For more information about 811, visit NIPSCO.com/811.

Northern Indiana Public Service Company LLC (NIPSCO), with headquarters in Merrillville, Indiana, has proudly served the energy needs of northern Indiana for more than 100 years. As Indiana’s largest natural gas distribution company and the second-largest electric distribution company, NIPSCO serves approximately 820,000 natural gas and 470,000 electric customers across 32 counties. NIPSCO is part of NiSource’s (NYSE: NI) six regulated utility companies. NiSource is one of the largest fully regulated utility companies in the United States, serving approximately 3.7 million natural gas and electric customers through its local Columbia Gas and NIPSCO brands. More information about NIPSCO and NiSource is available at NIPSCO.com and NiSource.com.

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