Call Before You Dig

Call Before You Dig

Call 811 or 800-424-5555 It's a free call.

Working Safely

 Shelby Gas Association and Marias River Electric want you to always be safe when it comes to digging around underground electric and natural gas utility lines near your construction project. Calling 811 before you dig can save lives and prevent losses but that's not where it ends. In fact, it's only the first step in an ongoing process that requires everyone's cooperation and good judgment.  Every day throughout our service territory and the United States, careless digging causes far-reaching consequences, from serious personal injury and environmental damage to costly delays. By following some simple procedures, we can keep accidents and property damage to a minimum. Each of us must take this responsibility personally. This brochure has been specifically designed to help you understand much of what is necessary to assure safe digging from start to finish. However, it is simply a reference. For complete laws and regulations regarding excavation, call the number listed on the back of this brochure. Please read the information carefully. If you have any questions at any time, please call us. Put this safety pamphlet in a handy place, such as the glove compartment of your vehicle or near your telephone. Working together, we can prevent loss of life and property. For more information on excavation safety, or to have underground utilities located, call this toll free number - 800-434-5555 or visit this web site

To report an electric or natural gas emergency:

In Shelby or Toole County

Electrical Emergency ........ 406-434-5575

Gas Emergency ............ 406-434-5575

We are at your service

Upon request here's what Shelby Gas Association crews will do for you:

  • Cooperate with Montana's digging safety program to mark buried utility lines in your proposed excavation area.

  • Provide you with excavation safety measures.

  •  Unseen damage to pipes can cause dangerous conditions after the excavation is back filled. When possible, Shelby Gas Association will inspect the exposed pipeline prior to back filling and personally attend the exposing of buried pipelines, when given sufficient notice. 

  • Respond to any call for emergency assistance at excavation site. Together, we can avoid underground utility line accidents that threaten lives and cause injury, costly lawsuits, fines and property loss settlements.

It's the law

According to the laws of the State of Montana, anyone who excavates, trenches, plows, drills, augers, blasts, strips topsoil or levels land is required to give notice at least two working days before any excavation work is started. Excavators who damage underground facilities without first calling to request and obtain locates must pay the full cost of repairs. In the case of personal injury or loss of life, as the excavator, you may be subject to a civil suit. When electrical, natural gas and other service lines are ruptured or damaged, the responsible excavator is charged for the damages. Always call at least two (2) working days before you dig. In Shelby and Toole County call the "Call Before You Dig" toll·free number at 8OO-424-5555. The utilities locating center answers your call and will alert underground utility companies of planned excavation projects, including electric, natural gas pipeline, water, telephone and cable operators.

What you need to do

Here's a list of steps to be taken by excavators, contractors, heavy equipment operators or even homeowners for the safest dig,

1. Contact Montana's hotline at least TWO (2) working days BEFORE you excavate. The call should only take a few minutes.

2. Be ready with all important information:

  • Municipality, county, city

  • Street address or nearest intersection of streets and roads, or township, range, section and quarter

  • Type of work

  • Extent of work

  • Caller's name and title

  • Date and time excavation is scheduled to begin

  • Contractor/contact person and address

  • Phone number and call back times

3. Then, wait for the site to be marked. Markings are made with paint, flags or stakes.

4. Note the color of all markings used and what type of facilities they indicate.

Color Codes for Underground Utility Line Markings

  • Electric (Red)

  • Water (Blue)

  • Gas/Oil/Petroleum (Yellow)

  • Sewer (Green)

  • Communication/Cable TV (Orange)

  • Proposed Excavation (White)

If the located line is a natural gas DISTRIBUTION pipeline, please follow these procedures:

  • Anytime you are crossing a gas distribution line, please allow sufficient time to contact the utility. The utility may choose to have a representative on site during the crossing.

  • Always hand dig with a shovel when you are within two (2) feet of any marked line.

  • If you disturb or damage the distribution line, notify the utility before burying the line. The utility will send a representative to the worksite to inspect and repair the line if necessary. Do not bury a disturbed line without an inspection by the utility.

Respect and protect all markings and dig with care.

Know the smell of natural gas

The pungent odor of skunk or rotten eggs could be the distinctive odor of natural gas. Since natural gas is odorless, we put an odorant in it to warn you in the event of a natural gas leak.

If you smell the odor of natural gas, please call our gas emergency line, 406-434-5575. If the odor is strong, persistent or permeates throughout a building, don't take chances. Immediately evacuate everyone, Don't use anything that could be a source of ignition, such as lights or machinery. Don't even use a phone until you get to another location.

Natural gas leaks are rare, but if one occurs, expert personnel will give it immediate attention. Call our gas emergency line or 911 for assistance.

What to do if a cable or pipeline is hit

Even when all precautions are taken, accidents can still happen. If you unexpectedly strike an underground cable or pipeline, take immediate steps to safeguard health and property.

If vour equipment comes in contact with an electric cable:

  1. Shut the machinery off and stay on the equipment until help arrives.

  2. Keep people away. Touching energized equipment while standing on the ground could be deadly.

  3. Call Marias River Electric's 24-hour Electric Emergency phone number, 406·434·5575.

  4. Remain on the equipment unless you absolutely have to get off because of fire or some other emergency situation. If you have to get off the equipment, jump clear of it, keeping both feet together. Hop or shuffle to safety, keeping both feet together. Simply walking away normally from energized equipment could cause electricity to pass through your body, causing serious harm. Your best action is to stay on the equipment until help arrives.

If you contact a natural gas pipeline:

  1. Turn your equipment off, if possible. Running equipment can be a source of ignition.

  2. Leave the equipment in place -do not try to back it out.

  3. Jump off the equipment.

  4. Immediately clear the area.

  5. Call Shelby Gas Associations 24-hour Gas Emergency phone number, 406·434·5575.

  6. Keep people away until help arrives. If a line is hit or even scratched, please call us to report it. Even though the damage may not be obvious, a scratch or indentation may cause the pipeline to leak at a later time. Never bury a damaged pipeline.

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