UNION, N.J. – With spring here and the ground ready for digging, homeowners and excavators are gearing up to start outdoor projects they had been waiting to tackle all winter.

April marks the traditional start of digging season, which increases the chance of damaging underground utility lines, including natural gas lines. That is why it is necessary to call 8-1-1 before digging. Elizabethtown Gas is joining other utilities, one-call centers and damage prevention advocates across the country to encourage residents to call 8-1-1 before they begin any digging project to prevent injuries, property damage and inconvenient outages.

Calling 8-1-1 connects to New Jersey One Call, which notifies the appropriate utility companies of the intent to dig. Professional locators then are sent free of charge to the requested digging sites to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags and spray paint. After making the call to 8-1-1, residents are required to wait three business days. Once lines have been accurately marked, it is important that residents respect and maintain the marks until the digging project is completed. Yellow paint indicates presence of underground natural gas pipelines.

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To protect underground utilities and to help ensure that communities stay safe and connected, Elizabethtown Gas is providing homeowners and professional excavators with the following safe digging guidelines:

 Call 8-1-1 Before You Dig: When starting an outdoor project involving digging, customers are advised to make contacting 8-1-1 or 1-800-272-1000 part of their plans. Calls to the free locating service can be made up to 10 days in advance. The requests to have utility operators mark underground facilities, including natural gas, water, cable, telephone and electric lines, can be made 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

 Allow the Required Time for Marking: Before doing any digging, customers are urged to call 8-1- 1 and wait the required time to have underground utility lines marked. The approximate location of underground utility lines will be marked with color-coded spray paint, flags or stakes that correspond to the utility. The color used for natural gas is yellow.

 Respect the Marks: Once the lines are marked, use the appropriate digging methods, which may include hand tools, and dig no closer than 24 inches from the marked utility lines.

 Excavate Carefully: Make sure the marks remain visible during the project. If the lines are damaged or removed, customers are encouraged to call 8-1-1 to have lines re-marked. If a natural gas line is damaged accidentally or the distinct odor of gas is present, call 9-1-1 or the Elizabethtown Gas 24-hour emergency phone line at 1-800-492-4009 from a safe location. Do not operate any machinery or any equipment that might cause a spark. For information about natural gas safety, visit www.elizabethtowngas.com/safety.

About Elizabethtown Gas Elizabethtown Gas is one of seven natural gas distribution companies of Southern Company Gas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO). Elizabethtown Gas provides natural gas delivery service to approximately 286,000 residential, business and industrial natural gas customers in New Jersey. In operation since 1855, the company serves parts of Union, Middlesex, Sussex, Warren, Hunterdon, Morris and Mercer counties. Elizabethtown Gas focuses on delivering world-class service to its customers every day, and was ranked highest in customer satisfaction with residential natural gas service in the east among midsize utilities, two years in a row, by J.D. Power and Associates.* Elizabethtown Gas also is committed to economic growth and development in New Jersey and was recognized in 2016 with the Economic Impact Award by the Supplier Diversity Development Council. For more information, visit www.elizabethtowngas.com and connect with the company on Facebook (Facebook.com/ElizabethtownGas) and Twitter (Twitter.com/etowngas). About Southern Company Gas Southern Company Gas is a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE:SO), America’s premier energy company. Southern Company Gas serves approximately 4.6 million natural gas utility customers through its regulated distribution companies in seven states and more than 1 million retail customers through its companies that market natural gas and related home services. Other nonutility businesses include investments in interstate pipelines, asset management for natural gas wholesale customers and ownership and operation of natural gas storage facilities. For more information, visit Southern Company Gas at southerncompanygas.com.