VICTORIA -- The COVID-19 pandemic is keeping people at home and causing many to look for projects around the house.

Many of those projects involve gardening and landscaping, and BC 1 Call is warning residents to call before digging on home properties in case homeowners live on top of underground infrastructure.

Maybe you are planning to build a new fence, a retaining wall or maybe plant a tree. Before taking on any home project, BC 1 Call suggests, “Click, call or check before you dig!”

The organization provides a free service that contractors and homeowners can use before digging.

BC 1 Call describes itself as the link between the excavating community and the owners of underground infrastructure. They say by contacting BC 1 Call, private landowners and commercial excavators can reduce the risk of personal injury and property damage.

“Taking the time to submit a ‘locate request’ to BC 1 Call is critical to your safety, and the safety of your neighbours,” said Chris Hyland, BC 1 Call president.

“Let’s remember that many more people are home right now relying on their gas, heat, internet and water supplies. Also, if a line is damaged and repairs are needed, most crews wouldn’t be able to maintain the mandated physical distancing protocols while fixing the problem. This puts workers at risk to repair these critical services.”

April is national ‘Dig Safe’ month as many people begin their home or yard renovations for the year.

BC 1 Call suggests that residents call them before they begin a project to save themselves from possibly causing larger issues, like cutting into a gas or water line.

Hyland says there were already three incidents reported on Vancouver Island this past long weekend.

“One of them was in Victoria where a person was ‘planting’, if you will, a ‘for sale’ sign for a home and they struck a natural gas line, which was unfortunate,” he said.

BC 1 Call can provide a free underground utility location search for any property.

In order to get the information on where it’s safe to dig on your property, you must submit a ‘locate request’ to BC 1 Call. The request must be made three days prior to any digging or excavating is done to give utility companies enough time to provide the necessary information to homeowners and contractors.

Homeowners are not cleared to dig until all utility companies with potential buried infrastructure in the area have provided details on their underground systems.

Free underground utility search requests can be filed online at BC 1 Call’s website here, or through the company’s phone line at 1-800-474-6886 during regular business hours. Hyland suggests filing out an online report, as information can be relayed more efficiently and with greater accuracy when in writing.

Hyland adds that vital resources are wasted if repair crews have to be sent to preventable home project incidents, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.