THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - Telephones silenced. 911 unavailable. Alarm systems knocked out. A new suspense movie? No, a cut cable.
It happens all too often when contractors and landscapers start digging and discover something unexpected -- buried utility cable that their equipment has accidentally severed.
Cut cables usually mean that communications services are out in the neighborhood or even in a wide area, affecting hundreds of homes and businesses.
This unpleasant surprise could be avoided if construction crews, landscapers and homeowners dialed the Underground Service Alert before starting a project that involves digging of any kind.
This toll-free service allows callers to arrange for Verizon and any other utility company with a local presence to visit their site and mark the location of buried telephone cables, wires and pipes. In Southern California, the number is 1-800-227-2600, and information also is available on the Internet at http://www.digalert.org. For Northern California and Nevada, the number is 1-800-642-2444, and the Web site is http://www.usanorth.org.
"Every year, area residents have their telephone service needlessly interrupted because someone didn't call before starting a construction project, even those as simple as digging a post hole for a fence," said Deborah Anders, Verizon operations president in California. "The Underground Service Alert is the surest and safest way to avoid damaging underground cables and interrupting telephone service."
A severed cable can be costly to the person or company responsible for causing the damage, and even more hurtful to someone who needs to make an emergency call but can't because the phone line is cut, said Anders.
Verizon advises customers and construction crews that they must provide utility companies with advance notice of at least two business days before beginning any household chore or commercial project that involves digging. Anyone who fails to comply could be liable for repair costs, if any, or civil penalties as allowed by law.
Buried telephone cables frequently run along the shoulder of the road or along the edges of property. Cables that provide service to a specific residence or business often run directly through the lot.
A Dow 30 company, Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services, with approximately $68 billion in annual revenues. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world, as measured by directory titles and circulation. Verizon's international presence includes wireline and wireless communications operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.