April is Safe Digging Month, according to a press release.

As property owners and contractors plan yard improvement projects this spring, NW Natural reminds people to call 811 to have underground utility lines located at least two business days before digging.

Damaging a gas line with a garden shovel, backhoe, trencher, post-hole digger or other tool can be a serious hazard and is the most common cause of gas line damages.

While NW Natural had fewer reported damages last year, 487 compared to 603 in 2011, the numbers are still too high.

Even if planting a tree or shrub, each and every digging project deserves a call to 811, the Utility Notification Center.

Making the call is free and required by law. Not making the call could result in hefty fines.

If a gas line has been accidentally damaged, remember these simple tips: Smell. Go. Let us know.

If you smell an odor like rotten eggs from a natural gas line and/or hear a hissing sound, immediately leave the area on foot and follow these tips:

• Do not use your telephone, cellphone or any electronic or battery powered device.

• Do not light matches.

• Don’t operate any electrical switch including lights.

• Don’t create any other source of ignition or spark that could ignite the gas.

• Evacuate the area on foot.

• Call NW Natural’s 24-hour emergency hotline at 1-800-882-3377 away from the leak.

More information may be found at nwnatural.com.

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