National Grid is part of coalition sponsoring California Chrome's jockey, Victor Espinoza, with the "Call 811 Before You Dig" message
National Grid has a local connection to California Chrome, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, who will attempt to become the first horse to win the Triple Crown since 1978 when he runs in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday in Elmont.
National Grid's connection to California Chrome comes via the horse's jockey, Victor Espinoza, who has worn the "Call 811" message on his pants, turtleneck and boots the past two races, raising awareness of the national "call before you dig" phone number. National Grid is a member of Common Ground Alliance, the national association that promotes the 811 phone number.
The 811 service helps homeowners and professionals who plan to dig notify multiple utility companies with one phone call. Everyone who calls 811 a few days before digging is connected to a local one call notification center that will take the caller's information and communicate it to local utility companies.
Professional utility locating technicians will then visit the dig site to mark the approximate location of underground utility lines with spray paint or flags. Once a site has been accurately marked, it is safe to begin digging around the marked areas.
Digging without knowing the approximate location of underground utilities increases the likelihood of an unintentional damage, which can cause serious injuries, service disruptions and repair costs.
"I've only been wearing the 'Call 811' message for a few weeks, but I've quickly been educated on how important it is for the safety of everyone who digs," Espinoza said. "I'm looking forward to the opportunity to remind millions of horse racing fans about how important it is to know what's below and call 811 before they dig. A buried utility is damaged every six minutes because someone decided to dig without calling 811, and I hope my involvement with the 'Call 811' campaign can help improve those figures."
An estimated combined television audience of more than 25 million people saw the 811 logo during NBC's race coverage of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, leading to near-record high visits to Call811.com on both days. The television audience for the Belmont Stakes is expected to approach 20 million, due to the popularity of California Chrome and the unprecedented 36-year Triple Crown drought viewers hope to see come to an end.
"When we got involved with this cooperative sponsorship, we saw it as an opportunity to promote an important safety service in a new and exciting way," said Laurie Brown, director of Network Strategy Gas for National Grid and board president of Dig Safely New York. "It's clear that California Chrome is a special horse, and to have the chance to be associated with a talented jockey like Victor Espinoza gives us the opportunity not just to earn more exposure for the 811 phone number and the safety message it sends, but to potentially be associated with history."
For more information about 811, visit www.call811.com.