Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate
555 Walnut Street
5th Floor Forum Place
Harrisburg, PA 17101-1923

Phone: 717-783-5048 or toll free 800-684-6560
Fax: 717-783-7152


Consumer Tip for April 2005

Toll Free Number


 (PA only)

Do your plans for Spring include digging in the yard? 

Don’t forget to call 1-800-242-1776 before you dig!

Just to remind you how very important it is to make that phone call. The website dedicated to just that issue has an article explaining that the Federal Communications Commission recently adopted a national call-before-you-dig 3-digit telephone number:  8-1-1. The national number is not active yet, but it’s in the works.

That one phone call can make the difference between safety and disaster. Gas, electric, telephone, water and cable lines are all frequently buried underground. Each company is happy to come out and mark their lines, so the lines and YOU stay safe. Please do your part and call 1-800-242-1776 three working days before you dig.  It’s the law, and it’s the safe thing to do.

These words are from the Dan Lucarelli, the Director of Marketing and Education from the PA One-Call System: 

“The Governor, the House of Representatives, and the state Senate have issued a Proclamation decreeing April 24 – 30, 2005 as ‘Pennsylvania One Call Week’.  The Senate version of the Proclamation is located here:

Pennsylvania One Call System encourages anyone who disturbs the earth in Pennsylvania to call us before they do so.  This includes homeowners, consumers, excavators, and even engineers who design things like shopping malls and roads.

When someone excavates, it is very difficult to determine if underground utilities are nearby. 

The easiest way to determine if there are utilities involved is to place a ‘One Call Notification’ at least three business days before you plan to excavate.  Our friendly and helpful Customer Service Representatives are available 24 hours a day, every day, and can be reached by dialing 800-242-1776.  The caller is asked a series of ‘excavation’ questions, and will receive a ‘serial number‘ of the notice sent to the utilities that may have lines nearby.  The serial number is their proof that they have contacted a One Call System, as PA Act 287, as amended, prescribes.

On the morning of the third business day after calling, the caller will receive a telephone call from a computer or a FAX that describes the ‘response’ of each utility.  The caller can expect two different responses – ‘Clear’ – meaning the utility company does not have lines nearby, and ‘Marked’ – meaning the utility company does have lines nearby, and they have indicated where they are with colored flags or paint on the ground.  The color of the flags or paint indicate what kind of line is nearby: 

Red – Electric power lines, Cables, Conduit and Lighting Cables

Yellow – Gas, Oil, Steam, Petroleum or Gaseous Materials

Orange – Communication, Alarm or Signal Lines, Cables, Conduit and Traffic Loops

Blue – Potable Water

Purple – Reclaimed Water, Irrigation and Slurry Lines

Green – Sewers and Drain Lines.

The location of underground lines may be surprising – I personally placed a one-call notification last year at my home, in preparation to install an invisible fence.  The buried electric line for my neighbor’s house was in a location I did not expect.  I’m glad I called!” 

Back To OCA Consumer Tips Archives


Commonwealth Website