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DOL/MSHA News Release No. 02-243
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Amy Louviere
Phone: (703) 235-1452

Released Monday, April 22, 2002

National Public Safety Campaign Urges Kids to Stay Out Of Mines And Stay Alive

ARLINGTON, Va.-The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) today kicked off its annual "Stay Out-Stay Alive" national public awareness campaign to warn children about the dangers of exploring and playing on mine property.

"In a recent incident that made the news, two young boys and their teenage cousin became trapped underground for 37 hours in an old lead mine in Arkansas," said Dave D. Lauriski, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "Luckily, rescuers found them in time. Other young people who set out to play at active or abandoned mine sites have not been so fortunate. We need to raise awareness of mine hazards to prevent these incidents in the future."

Last year, at least 31 children and adults died in recreational accidents on mine property. These deaths were the result of quarry drownings, falls down abandoned mine shafts and overturned ATV equipment.

With the arrival of warm weather and another school year winding down, the temptation to venture into these areas can be overwhelming. That is why, over the next two weeks, MSHA personnel will deliver safety talks in schools throughout the country to educate children about the importance of steering clear of these sites.

Hazards in underground abandoned mines include deep vertical shafts, horizontal openings supported by rotting timbers, unstable rock formations, and the presence of unused or misfired explosives. Water-filled quarries may conceal rock ledges and old machinery, and the water often is deceptively deep and dangerously cold. Old surface mines contain hills of loose materials in stockpiles or refuse heaps that can easily collapse.

MSHA pioneered "Stay Out--Stay Alive" four years ago and, today, more than 70 federal and state agencies, private organizations, businesses and individuals have become active partners in the campaign.