CLEVELAND, Aug. 8, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Dominion East Ohio is using the calendar date August 11, or 8/11, as a natural reminder that Ohio law requires the general public and contractors to call 8-1-1 at least 48 hours prior to any digging project to have underground utility lines marked. This will help ensure safe excavation. Promoting the Call 8-1-1 and other pipeline safety messages have helped the company reduce third-party dig-ins 50 percent over the past eight years. When calling 8-1-1, homeowners are connected to the Ohio Utility Protection Service (OUPS), the local one-call center, which notifies the appropriate utility companies of their intent to dig. This service is free of charge. Professional locators are then sent to the requested digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags, spray paint or both. "When we started tracking third-party damages to our system back in 2006, our damage ratio was near five damages per 1,000 'Call before You Dig' tickets," said Brian Witte, consulting engineer, Ohio Pipeline Safety. "As of 2014 our damage ratio is now 2.6 damages per 1,000 'Call before You Dig' tickets. With DEO receiving over 280,000 'Call before You Dig' tickets annually, this equates to roughly a 50-percent decrease in third party damages." Striking a single utility line can cause injury, repair costs, fines and inconvenient outages. State law mandates a call to 8-1-1 for every digging project, no matter how big or small. Installing a mailbox, putting in a fence, building a deck, or planting a tree are all examples of digging projects that require a call to 8-1-1 before starting. The depth of utility lines can vary for a number of reasons, such as erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surfaces. Utility lines need to be properly marked because even when digging only a few inches deep, the risk of striking an underground utility line still exists.