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Maximize Your Safety: Call 811 Before Digging, Urges Ameren During National Safe Digging Month


Benjamin Hughes

April 9, 2024 - 08:24 am


Digging Safely: Ameren Emphasizes the Importance of Contacting 811 During National Safe Digging Month

A Season for Landscaping Awareness

With the arrival of spring, homeowners are eagerly outlining their landscaping projects in anticipation of warmer days. The commencement of April, which also serves as National Safe Digging Month, brings a critical message to those embarking on any digging project: practice caution and always call 811 before breaking ground. This reminder from Ameren underscores the importance of safety for customers throughout the St. Louis area as the company aims to prevent injuries and utility damages.

Calling 811 isn’t just a safety tip—it’s mandated by law. The consequence of striking a buried utility line can range from neighborhood utility disruptions to severe personal injuries, or even fatalities. For the sake of community safety and legal compliance, Ameren lays out three essential steps everyone must follow before initiating any digging activity.

The Essential Trio of Safe Digging Practices

To safeguard all community members and adhere to legal stipulations, the first step is a straightforward one: either call 811 or visit in Missouri and in Illinois. This should be done at least three business days before starting the intended digging project, and thankfully, requests can be lodged any time of the week, 24 hours a day.

The second vital move is to patiently wait for a professional locator's arrival. These specialists are adept at identifying the approximate location of subterranean utilities like natural gas, electricity, water, sewer, and telecom lines. They mark these using designated color codes—yellow for gas, and red for electric lines, among others—to ensure no inadvertent contact occurs during digging.

Finally, when the area is distinctively marked, take heed and dig diligently. Every marked utility is surrounded by a "tolerance zone," measure at 24 inches in Missouri and 18 inches in Illinois. It is a buffer space in which extra caution—or manual digging methods—is necessary to prevent any damage.

In Case of an Accident: Urgent Steps to Follow

Accidents can happen despite the best intentions and precautions. If an underground natural gas line, or any other facility, is unintentionally struck, immediate action is required: end all digging activities, vacate the vicinity promptly, and contact Ameren's emergency hotline—800.552.7583 for Missouri or 800.755.5000 for Illinois residents—without hesitation.

Ameren stresses the high stakes associated with uninspected digging. "Millions of U.S. homeowners will endanger themselves by neglecting to contact 811 prior to commencing their digging projects," says Pam Harrison, the senior director of gas operations for Ameren Missouri. The risks remain even for seemingly shallow projects, as many utilities reside closer to the surface than one might assume.

Not Just for the Big Projects

The responsibility of safe digging extends beyond large-scale construction. Even smaller, do-it-yourself undertakings such as planting a garden or a tree, installing a mailbox, anchoring a pet yard stake, building an in-ground sandbox, or ripping out a driveway demand a call to 811.

"New dig, call again," as Eric Kozak, vice president of natural gas operations and distribution for Ameren Illinois, advises. "Utility lines may have shifted owing to factors like erosion or root growth since your last project. The inquiry is free and simple, and it is a crucial step toward preserving the safety of your home and neighborhood."

A National Perspective on Underground Utility Damages

On a national scale, the data is troubling: every six minutes, an underground utility line incurs damage due to unadvised initial digging. In the unfortunate event that a gas line is disrupted, it's imperative to leave the area immediately, head upwind, alert the utility provider, reach out to the 911 emergency services, and then dial 811. Ameren's emergency contact numbers, 800.552.7583 (Missouri) and 800.755.5000 (Illinois), should be kept within reach for such emergencies.

Insights into Ameren Corporation

Ameren Corporation, rooted in St. Louis, is a beacon of electric and natural gas utility service for over 3.3 million customers across a 64,000-square-mile expanse. Its Missouri and Illinois utility subsidiaries are tightly regulated to ensure dependable services. Ameren Illinois specifically handles electric transmission and distribution along with natural gas delivery, while Ameren Missouri provides an array of services including electric generation, transmission, distribution, and natural gas distribution. An integral part of the corporation's portfolio is the Ameren Transmission Company of Illinois, which oversees rate-regulated electric transmission ventures within the Midcontinent Independent System Operator’s network.

For further details about Ameren and its commitment to safe digging and utility services, consumers and interested parties are encouraged to visit, or engage with Ameren on social platforms including Twitter (@AmerenCorp), Facebook (, and LinkedIn (

Collaborating Towards a Safer Digging Environment

To propagate a message of safety and responsibility, Ameren works in tandem with organizations such as the Common Ground Alliance, to lessen the number of preventable underground utility damages. As homeowners and professionals alike plan their outdoor projects, adhering to the 811 protocol is not just a recommended step but an indispensable safety measure.

Investing a little time to call or visit the respective websites before digging can save a great deal of time, resources, and lives in the long run. The practice of responsible digging is a community effort where every individual's participation contributes to the bigger picture of public safety and service reliability.

Education and Outreach: Essential for Prevention

Education is at the forefront of preventing digging disasters. Ameren and similar utilities companies dedicate themselves to enlightening the public on safe digging practices. Through outreach programs, community engagement, and direct communication, they aim to instill the knowledge that a simple call can thwart significant dangers.

During National Safe Digging Month, and indeed throughout the entire year, these companies organize activities and share resources designed to spread awareness. By committing to education, Ameren hopes to not only deepen the community's understanding but to also foster a culture where safety is inherently practiced by all.

As the company champions these preventative measures, it also ensures that the necessary resources and support are readily accessible for those undertaking digging activities, regardless of the scale or scope of the project in question.

Conclusion: Safeguarding Our Communities with Every Dig

In light of the increasing focus on home improvement and construction projects across the country, the message of National Safe Digging Month resounds with urgency. It beckons us to pause and partake in practices that could spell the difference between a successful project and a disaster.

The shared vision of Ameren and its stakeholders to maintain an incident-free environment reflects the essence of such collaborative efforts. As we celebrate the onset of spring and look forward to transforming our living spaces, let us all remember to put safety first and dial 811—it is the simplest yet most crucial call we could make.

Additional Resources and Contacts

For individuals seeking to delve deeper into safe digging methods, the website for Missouri residents, and the webpage for those in Illinois serve as comprehensive platforms offering rich information. These resources not only facilitate the 811 call process but also provide educational material on utility marking guidelines and safe excavation techniques.

As we collectively forge ahead to ensure our neighborhoods remain safe and well-served, Ameren and similar utility providers extend their invitation to homeowners and contractors alike: learn more, dig safely, and let's continue to care for the infrastructure that lies beneath our feet.

By revisiting these principles, the essence of National Safe Digging Month is reinforced. It’s not merely about compliance, but about cultivating an ethos of collective responsibility and cautious planning. Ameren remains steadfast in its commitment to educating the public and safeguarding the community, and by calling 811 before every digging endeavor, each individual showcases the same commitment to safety.


Acknowledgement: Ameren Corporation