Summer is upon us and the urge to get outdoors and explore is calling; abandoned mines are a strong lure to the curious and adventuresome, both young and old. MSHA estimates that approximately 30 people die each year at these abandoned mines with more than 60 percent of the deaths being from drowning. What may look like a picturesque watering hole, can hold some real dangers.
Here are some things to think about:
- Abandoned mines and quarries can hold and hide dangerous equipment. That jump into the water could have devastating results if there is large equipment underneath.
- Mining companies are held to high environmental standards when closing mine sites; however, some locations may be on the radar as superfund sites or even extremely old mine sites that just never got on the radar. Hazardous materials could be present; ignoring the no trespassing signs and no swimming signs, could cost you your life.
- Quarries traditionally have steep walls. The urge to take a flying leap into the water, at high elevations may seem exciting, but high walls, cold water, hidden equipment, and harsh impact could lead to devastating results.
- Underground mines can contain miles and miles of dark, damp tunnels and crumbling walls. Losing your way could cost you your life.
- Abandoned underground mines most likely no longer have proper ventilation. Potentially hazardous gases and contaminated dust could be present.
- MSHA has a staffed toll-free emergency line that runs 24 hours a day. This number (800-746-1553) is to report mining accidents and hazardous condition at a mine – including abandoned mines.
I remember when I was a kid, going out to swim at a quarry. Obviously, nothing went wrong, but proper education and awareness of the dangers of these sites should be taught to all. The “No Trespassing,” and “No Swimming” signs are there for a reason! Remember: stay out, stay alive!