Erie, Pa. (WJET/WFXP/ — As August 11 is 811 Day, National Fuel is reminding homeowners and contractors to “Call Before You Dig.”

Pennsylvania state law requires residents to call 811 before digging to have underground utility lines professionally located and marked.

According to a release, digging without knowing the approximate location of underground utilities can result in serious injuries, service disruptions and costly repairs.

Before starting any landscaping or outdoor improvement projects this year, call 811 — a toll-free number — or head online and notify officials of the plan at least three and no more than 10 business days in advance.

The national 811 phone number connects callers with local One Call Centers. Operators record the project locations and notify National Fuel. National Fuel then dispatches professional locators to mark the approximate positioning of lines.

This provides for a quick and safe process to protect residents living around the planned project.

“All excavation projects– even small or shallow digging projects like planting trees and shrubs, or installing a fence or mailbox require a call,” said Carly Manino, spokesperson for National Fuel. “Many of the pipeline leaks and emergencies we respond to each year occur when homeowners and businesses dig on properties without knowing the location of underground utility lines.”

The Common Ground Alliance (CGA), a national association that protects underground infrastructure, states that:

• By calling 811 before digging, the likelihood of damaging a utility line is less than 1%.

• Thirty-six percent of homeowners who plan to dig this year for projects like landscaping, installing a fence or mailbox or building a deck, pond or patio will put themselves and their communities at risk by not calling 811 prior to digging.

• The annual rate of damages to buried infrastructure in the U.S. has remained stagnant for most of the last decade and costs the U.S. a staggering $30 billion every year.

As the saying goes, if you smell gas, leave fast! If a rotten-egg natural gas odor is present, leave the premises immediately and call National Fuel’s emergency line at 1-800-444-3130.

If you smell gas outdoors, leave the area immediately, call National Fuel’s emergency number and provide the address nearest to the site of the odor. To learn more about natural gas safety, visit National Fuel’s website.