When 811 became the universal three-digit dial code for America’s notification centers in 2007, it set the stage for uniform branding of safe excavating efforts that could be easily recognized by professional excavators and homeowners across the country. The Common Ground Alliance (CGA), an organization dedicated to protecting underground utility lines and the safety of people who excavate near them, found in its 2018 study that 36% of American homeowners who planned to dig this year will put themselves and communities at risk by failing to call 811 to learn the approximate location of underground utilities. These risks exist even for elementary projects such as landscaping, installing a fence or mailbox, and building a deck or patio.
Since homeowners often complete projects like landscaping and planting gardens themselves, an 811 partnership with home improvement retailers like Lowe’s and Home Depot was ideal. In 2016, North Carolina 811 (NC 811) attended a Green Day Event with Lowe’s to promote a national 811 partnership. NC 811 gave a presentation, and the Merchandising Director of the Lowe’s Live Nursery agreed to add an 811 logo to tree wraps along with instructions to “Call 811 Before You Dig”. The logo was discussed among the One Calls of America subcommittee “Mark-it-Madness”, and the final “Safe Digging Partner” logo was approved for use. Tree wraps began arriving into stores across the nation in March 2017 with the partner logo. In 2018, the tree wrap program was approved once again with 1.5 million tree wraps being distributed across the nation.
Since the Lowe’s partnership was so successful, it only made sense to have the next 811 partnership with Home Depot. Home Depot is the world’s largest home improvement retailer with 2,284 stores in North America. In 2017, collaboration between Megan Estes of Georgia 811, Ann Rushing of NC 811, and Frank Bedtke of HBK Engineering, LLC (Chicago, Illinois) led to a partnership between 811 and Home Depot. After consulting with the Live Goods Merchant of Home Depot, the “Safe Digging Partner” logo would appear on all Home Depot tree wraps beginning in 2018. As of February 2018, Home Depot has sold 583,500 trees with these wraps. The number will only continue to increase throughout the growing season!
Underground utility damage prevention is a shared responsibility. Whether you are a homeowner or professional excavator, take the first step in the safe excavation process by contacting GSOC at least 48 hours in advance, excluding weekends and holidays, before you break the surface of the ground. Be a “Safe Digging Partner” and help protect MN’s underground infrastructure!