What do all those colored flags mean?


Have you ever wondered what the various short colored flags along a road right of way mean or across a yard or even a field?


I have attended trainings put on by Paradigm Laison Services,LLC. They are all about pipeline safety across the nation. They specialize in training for first responders, safety personal, field workers, etc.

They promote heavily the use of the call 811 phone system before and when a problem is occurring. They provide good examples of what someone might encounter in their daily jobs. They explain the network systems of pipelines across the country and Ohio.

Call before digging

American Public Works Association Uniform CodeThey explain the importance of calling before you dig. It is the law to call 811 and then there is a 48 hour waiting period so any utility buried in the ground can be located by a location service paid for by the utility companies.

Safety. In some cases it may seem silly to have to wait, but contractors should be calling and if not call yourself. You could easily save your life or someone else’s. Please note, in general, tile lines are not included in this system however they can cross over or under utility lines of all types.

Thus, tile lines become relevant when digging occurs and repairs are called for. Another caution would be, the flags let you know something is there but the exact depth is unknown.

Buried infrastructure

Usually that requires some hand work around the tolerance zone of the buried infrastructure. Pipelines under pressure are subject to failure by accidently bruising, nicking, scraping the metal pipe.

After a period of time after “hitting one” a false of sense security can be interrupted some time into the future when they may leak or worse. Utility lines of all kinds demand attention to protect the safety of all involved.

Life saving

Please use the call 811 phone system where ever you may be located. The end result can save your life or someone else’s.

The industry adopted flag colors are represented by the following chart and are championed by the American Public Works Program Uniform Color Code.


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Jeff is the District Manager for the Medina SWCD since 2006. Before that he was an area representative with the ODNR Division of Soil and Water Conservation through out Northeast Ohio for most of his career. He worked closely with District Boards of Supervisors and staffs on programs and capacity building.



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