The Ohio Utilities Protection Service (OUPS) acts as a communication link between utility companies and individuals planning any digging activity. Though OUPS does not physically mark lines, it does relay digging and excavation requests to its utility members.

Call before you dig
By law, you MUST contact OUPS at 8-1-1, at least two working days before beginning any landscape or construction digging project. This regulation applies to smaller landscape and construction projects too, including digging fence post holes, anchoring supports for decks and swing sets, planting trees, removing tree roots and driving landscaping stakes into the ground.

Calling OUPS before you dig is the only way to determine the exact location of a pipeline. Some people assume they can pinpoint a pipeline’s location simply by drawing a straight line between two or more pipeline markers. These markers, however, do not indicate the depth of the pipeline and are not always located precisely over a line. A pipeline may curve or twist underground to avoid natural and/or manmade objects, such as tree roots or television cable.

What OUPS will do…
When calling OUPS, the operator who handles your call will ask several questions about the area in which you plan to dig, including:

  • Address and/or location where the digging or excavating will be done (including the county and township)
  • Lot number (if new subdivision or development)
  • Directions to the property (including the closest street or road intersection)
  • Extent of work to be done

The operator will then contact OUPS members with underground pipelines in your area. Representatives from these member companies will come to the location to measure and mark their pipelines for you. Some companies may require that you contact them directly; OUPS will tell you if this is the case.

When utility company representatives mark the location, they will use colored flags and/or paint to identify the type of underground service. The chart below explains these color-coded markings.

Utility Location & Coordination
Color Code

Red–Electric power lines, cables, conduit and lighting cables

Yellow–Gas, oil, steam, petroleum or gaseous materials

Orange–Communication, alarm or signal lines, cables or conduit

Blue–Potable water

Purple–Reclaimed water, irrigation and slurry lines

Green–Sewers and drain lines

Pink–Temporary survey markings

White–Proposed excavating

If you accidentally come in contact with a line
If you come in contact with a pipeline, and cause minor damage such as a dent, gouge, scratch or break in coatings, call the appropriate utility with the type and location of the damage. Please allow the utility company time to repair the pipeline. If your contact with the pipeline results in a release of natural gas, please contact the appropriate utility and 9-1-1. Then take the appropriate steps to keep yourself and surrounding property safe. To view these steps, click here.

Report unauthorized digging
If you suspect ANY illegal digging, call the natural gas company listed on the nearest pipeline marker right away. If no company is listed, call 9-1-1.

For more information…
To learn more about OUPS and safe digging, visit www.oups.org or call 8-1-1.

What to do if you suspect a gas leak

If you smell a natural gas odor, hear the hissing sound of gas escaping or see other signs of a leak:

  • REMAIN calm.
  • DON'T light a match, candle or cigarette.
  • DON'T turn electrical appliances or lights on or off or use any device that could cause a spark.
  • IMMEDIATELY EVACUATE the area, and from a safe location, call your local natural gas company and 9-1-1 for emergency response.