New household projects to take your mind off the lockdown? Safety first.

If viewing screens for hours a day during this COVID-19 lockdown is starting to get on your nerves, perhaps it’s time to start a new project around your home or yard.

Keeping busy on household projects is a great way to pass the time. But if any of those projects involves outdoor digging, do it safely.

Across Canada, April 1 marks the start of Dig Safe Month, an initiative that’s spearheaded by the Canadian Common Ground Alliance (CCGA).

Industries with underground infrastructure use Dig Safe Month to raise awareness of safe digging practices. The aim is to improve safety and reduce damage to critical underground infrastructure, such as gas and water pipelines or underground power lines. That’s because damage to underground infrastructure can pose a major safety risk and costs Canadians at least $1 billion each year.


Four important things to know if your home improvement project involves digging


  1. Buried from around a half-metre to several metres below ground are oil, gas, sewer and water pipelines, as well as electricity and communication cables. They operate reliably, safely and silently day after day. However, digging activities like agriculture and gardening can cause unintended damage. And that can cause service interruptions and have huge financial costs.
  2. If there’s an energy transmission pipeline near you, it’s buried within a strip of land called a pipeline right-of-way (ROW) or easement, which can range from 10 to 40 metres wide. You’ll see many signs or pipeline markers along the pipeline right-of-way especially near roads, property lines, railway or river crossings.
  3. Always remember to Call or click before you dig. Once you’ve called to make a location request, line locating technicians will come to your property. They’ll use flags or paint to mark the location of the pipeline or other underground infrastructure. And they’ll let you know when they’ve marked all lines and explain what the markers mean.
  4. Once technicians mark the site, they’re only valid for 14 days. That’s because weather or accidental movement can impact line locate markers. So, you may have to call again if your project doesn’t take place within that two-week window.


It’s also good to be well prepared when you call. Here are a few quick tips that will make the locate request simple and quick for you and the company that’s locating the infrastructure.


Before you call or click


  • Be clear about the work you need to do and the date you want to start.
  • Have information at your fingertips about the dig location… the city or town, street address, legal land location or lot and block, and/or two intersecting street names nearby.
  • Be ready to outline your project site with white flags, paint or survey tape on small wooden stakes, if asked.
  • Allow two to three business days after you call for the company to mark the site.

Preventing damage to pipelines and protecting the safety of communities are among the highest priorities for CEPA’s member companies. And preventing third-party damage to underground infrastructure is as simple as a click or a phone call. Let’s all do our part to keep people and infrastructure safe while we have fun with our spring and summer projects.

Check out some of our previous Dig Safe blog posts: