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DOL/MSHA Media Advisory
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Suzy Bohnert
Phone: (202) 693-9420

Released Monday, April 26, 2004

MSHA Urges Children to "Stay Out-Stay Alive" as National Public-Safety Campaign Begins Sixth Year

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

"Young people have a natural curiosity for the unknown," said Dave D. Lauriski, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "Unfortunately, old mines and quarries often are located in secluded places or in pristine settings, making them quite a temptation for those who like to explore the outdoors. Through this program, our goal is to warn kids and their parents about the potential hazards that exist on mine property, and to encourage them to find safer, supervised places to play."

Since 1999, more than 140 children and adults have died in recreational accidents at active and abandoned mine sites. For this reason, during the next two weeks MSHA personnel will deliver safety talks and distribute educational materials in schools throughout the country to educate children about the importance of steering clear of mine sites. To help publicize this effort, Lauriski recently talked to students at elementary schools in Albuquerque, N.M., and Rolla, Mo.

MSHA launched the "Stay Out-Stay Alive" program in 1999. Today, more than 80 federal and state agencies, private organizations, businesses and individuals are active partners in the campaign to make others aware of the approximately 14,000 active and nearly 500,000 abandoned mines in the United States. With towns spreading into the countryside, and more people visiting remote locations, this increases the possibility of public contact with active or abandoned mines.

These mines pose hazards, such as 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 is often deceptively deep and dangerously cold. Old surface mines contain hills of loose materials in stockpiles or refuse heaps that can easily collapse and endanger others.

To view more information about the "Stay Out-Stay Alive" campaign on the Internet, go to www.msha.gov. Under the special initiatives heading, click on "Stay Out-Stay Alive."