Alabama 8-1-1 demonstration shows why you really should “call before you dig”

DECATUR, Ala. - You probably pass by a sign every day that reads "Alabama 811, call before you dig." They're easy to ignore. But a demonstration in Decatur Thursday night, illustrated why actually dialing those three numbers could save your life.

“Not only is that product flammable, it can cause asphyxiation, it can displace oxygen, it can travel the path of least resistance," explained McKay Lyvers of Alabama 811.

The simulation featured a piece of construction equipment, puncturing an underground natural gas line, causing a spotter to pass out from the fumes in an unsafe location.

Lyvers told the crowd gathered in Decatur, this is an example of what you don't do - digging before calling ahead.

“It can really really cause a bad situation," said Lyvers.

Part of the demonstration included Decatur Fire and Rescue, along with officers arriving to the scene. Fireman used the spray from the fire hose to deflect natural gas fumes from the dangerous natural gas.

“Just put a barrier between themselves and the downed person and basically just a protective barrier so they can extract that person out of the situation,” said Lyvers.

He said this is a great demonstration for public works crews using construction equipment, but this nightmare scenario could also play out in your own backyard with just a shovel.

"Installing fences, installing mailboxes," he added.

In this scenario, responders were able to save the victim and crews were able to shut off the gas line, but for when it's not a drill, Lyvers hopes you won't take any chances and give them a call.

“Every excavation that you do, making sure that you’re utilizing the free service of 811 and making sure you call before you dig," said Lyvers.

Decatur was one of five stops Alabama 811 will make, showing the demonstration.

For more information on what Alabama 811 can provide, click here.