BECKLEY, WV (WVNS)– Call before you dig is a popular saying regarding West Virginia 811. A free service for West Virginians to dig safely in their own yards. As warmer weather moves in, many are turning their attention to their yards. Planting gardens, installing fences, or small construction projects so the potential is real in digging into underground wires, water and gas lines, or other potentially harmful infrastructure.

In West Virginia, dialing 811 before you start digging can not only save you from the dangers below, it’s also the law. And it doesn’t just apply to construction companies or workers. All West Virginians are required to pick up the phone before the shovel.

Small projects like planting flowers in a garden, putting in a mailbox post, light post, not calling 811 before putting a shovel to the ground could be dangerous to your health, life, home, and/or public utility services into and out of your home.

Captain Ernest Parsons of the Beckley Fire Department said, “If you dig without knowing what’s under the ground, there’s potential for digging into a gas line. And of course, you have natural gas spewing. And so they come in contact with an ignition source. There’s potential that, you know, you could have a problem there.”

The problem, of course, is a natural gas explosion that could damage your and your neighbor’s home. And by not calling 811 before digging, a disaster like that could end up costing you thousands in fines. Up to $5,000 to be specific. And that doesn’t account for the costly repair costs from the gas company, insurance claims, or civil lawsuits from neighbors.

And it isn’t just gas lines you have to worry about. Water lines, phone and cable lines, fiber optic lines, sewer lines, and more lay just under your feet, often running right through your yard. Hitting any of these could lead to electrocution, injury, and even death. You could also be without water, phone, internet, or power for hours or even days.

In short, it’s easier and cheaper to call 811 before digging than 911 after hitting underground infrastructure. WV811 is a free service for anyone looking to start digging in the state. A quick call to them or questionnaire on their website will get someone to map where underground lines are on your property free of charge. There’s even a WV811 app to make the process easier.

West Virginia 811 can be reached by simply dialing 8-1-1 on any phone within the state of West Virginia.