How can something so intriguing be so deadly? That is the question hikers, outdoor enthusiasts, hunters and swimmers should ask themselves before venturing into one of the thousands of active or abandoned mines and quarries scattered through the country.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), dozens of children and adults are injured and killed each year from accidents that occur at active and inactive underground mines, sinkholes, pits and quarries.
In an attempt to pinpoint unsafe access to both active and abandoned mine sites and to publicize the potential dangers, MSHA has established a toll-free number for concerned citizens to report them.
MSHA has enforcement authority over active mines, while abandoned mines fall under the jurisdiction of the Office of Surface Mining, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management or the U.S. Forest Service.
"In many cases, the general public is unsure which government agency to notify when they encounter a dangerous mine site," said J. Davitt McAteer, assistant labor secretary for mine safety and health. "This toll-free hotline provides a single point of contact for people to report unsafe conditions and be assured that they will be recorded and followed up in a consistent, professional manner."
Concerned citizens can report unsafe access to mines by dialing (800) 499-1038. Callers will be instructed to leave a detailed message and a number where they can be reached for a non-emergency situation.
For further information about MSHA's efforts in mine hazard awareness, visit the agency's home page at www.msha.gov and click on the "Stay Out -- Stay Alive" button.