For Release: 05/17/2017

811 Hot Air Balloon travels to Chicago to raise awareness of digging safety

Peoples Gas, CDOT, HBK Engineering, LLC, Greater Chicago Damage Prevention Council (GCDPC) and Home Depot encourage Chicago residents to know what’s below and “call before you dig”

CHICAGO – With the use of a hot air balloon, state and local officials and representatives from area companies raised awareness today about 811 Chicago and the importance of putting safety first before beginning any digging project. Rebekah Scheinfeld, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), joined Lori Flores Rolfson, vice president – operations and maintenance, Peoples Gas; Ron Kaminski, CEO, HBK Engineering, LLC; and a representative from Home Depot to host the first 811 Chicago block party at Home Depot’s West Town location.

The event featured the 811 Hot Air Balloon, brought to Chicago on its 26-state tour around the U.S. The balloon is printed with the national phone number for utility location services, 811, which Illinois residents should always call at least 48 hours before breaking ground.

Guests had their pictures taken in the basket of the hot air balloon. Dozens of tool vendors, including DeWalt, Milwaukee and Makita, were also present at the event to provide the public with games, giveaways and additional information about safe digging.

“During this time of year, we know homeowners are getting started on do-it-yourself home improvement projects involving digging. That’s why we brought a larger-than-life reminder of why calling 811 before breaking ground is critical,” said Rolfson. “By calling 811 to have the underground utility lines in their area marked, our customers are taking the correct steps to ensure the safety of their communities.”

When homeowners and contractors call 811, they are connected to 811 Chicago, the local one-call center, which notifies the appropriate utility companies of their intent to dig. Professional locators are then sent to the requested digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags, paint or both.

“The depth of utility lines can vary for a number of reasons, such as erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surfaces,” said Commissioner Scheinfeld. “Utility lines need to be properly marked because even when digging only a few inches, the risk of striking an underground utility line still exists.”

“Every six minutes an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without first calling 811,” said Kaminski. “Striking a single line can cause injury, repair costs, fines and inconvenient outages. Every digging project, from planting a garden to building a deck, warrants a call to 811.”

“Home Depot is proud to partner with Peoples Gas, CDOT and HBK Engineering to help raise awareness for customers who frequent our stores,” said a representative from Home Depot. “By encouraging our customers to put their safety and the safety of their communities first, we can help prevent underground utility lines from being damaged.”

Peoples Gas, CDOT, HBK Engineering and Home Depot encourage area residents to visit or for more information about digging safely.

For More Information, Contact:

  • Vanessa Hall


WEC Energy Group