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5 Steps to Safe Digging

When starting a project whether big or small the excavator (homeowner, professional excavator, or anyone digging) needs to request utilities to be marked. This can be done by calling 811 or going online to and clicking on Submit Locate Request.

1: Contact MISS DIG 811 online or by phone

At least 3 business days prior to digging on your property contact MISS DIG 811:

  • By placing a ticket online by clicking on Submit Locate Request on
  • Or by calling: 811 1-800-482-7171

You will receive an email with your ticket number to use later to check Positive Response status from the facility owner/operator (the Utility Company)

2: Wait 3 business days for utilities to be marked

The facility owner / operators (the Utility Company) have 3 business days to go out to your property and mark where their facilities are located.

They use paint and / or flags to identify the approximate location of their lines.

Then the facility owner / operator must go online to MISS DIG 811 Positive Response to record their status of what they did to your property when they marked facility lines.

Some lines will not be marked because they are not owned by the facility company. Those will need to be marked by a private locator.

3: Check status online to confirm all utilities have been marked
  • You must wait 3 business days for a response from all facility owner / operators (the Utility Company), so they have time to mark their facilities with flags and / or paint.
  • After the 3 business days you must go online to and click on Check Status to verify that ALL facilities have been marked. Enter your ticket number and review the responses from the facilities.
  • ALL the facility responses must be either Marked, Exempt from Marking, or No Conflict before beginning the work.
  • If you see a response that says Has Not Responded or if you see the evidence of utilities on-site without markings and your start work date and time has arrived, then you will need to contact MISS DIG by dialing 811.
  • Ask the operator for additional assistance from those facility owner/ operators who have responded with Has Not Responded or Not Complete.
  • Positive Response codes
4: Hand dig when digging within 4ft. of paint or flags


You are ready to begin your project if all facilities are marked, your start work date and time has arrived, and Positive Response statuses are all green!

Make sure you know where and what facilities are in your workspace.

Look around to make sure all facilities have been marked. If you see a pedestal, meter, transformer, fire hydrant, etc. on site and no flags or paint coming from them, a facility may have been missed.  Call 811 for additional assistance.

If you are digging within the Caution Zone, which is 4 feet on either side of the paint or flags, you must use soft excavation to hand expose the utility.

Soft excavation means using a method to prevent contact damage to underground facilities. It could include using a shovel to hand-dig, vacuum excavation methods, or the use of pneumatic hand tools.

If you are digging in the Safe Zone, that means your dig location is 4 feet or more from either side of the paint or flags, and there is no need to hand expose.


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5: Dig with care

Most importantly keep yourself, family, and friends safe. Make sure you are digging in the Safe Zone (more than 4 ft out on either side of facility markings). If you are closer than 4 ft out from facility markings (in the Caution Zone) you must first, hand expose the facility lines to determine their exact location before digging to ensure you do not harm yourself or cut off service.

Do NOT remove the flags until the work is complete or after 21 days.

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Note: If a homeowner has hired a contractor/excavator for excavation on their property it is the responsibility of the contractor/excavator to contact MISS DIG 811 for a locate request per PA 174.

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Homeowner Pamphlet