How can something so intriguing be so deadly? It's a question for adventure-seekers to seriously consider before wandering into one of the thousands of active and abandoned mines and quarries scattered throughout the country.
Each year, dozens of children and adults are injured or killed while playing on mine property.
To prevent the next tragedy, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) launched, a nationwide public awareness campaign to keep people away from active and abandoned mine sites.
"With the arrival of warm weather, the temptation to explore an underground mine shaft or swim in a quarry can be irresistible," said MSHA Administrator Davitt McAteer. "Don't do it," he warned. "And parents, don't let your children near these places. Mine sites make lousy and deadly playgrounds."
"Stay Out -- Stay Alive" is a cooperative effort of more than 30 federal, state and private sector organizations rallying together to increase awareness about the hazards of active and abandoned mine sites.
From April 17-30, MSHA and its partners will visit schools, community groups and scout troops nationwide to discuss the dangers children may encounter if they enter mine property without proper training, safety equipment and supervision of mine personnel.
MSHA warns that active underground mines may harbor undetectable and deadly gases, such as methane and carbon monoxide.
Abandoned underground sites often contain decaying timbers, loose rock and tunnels that can collapse at any time.
When quarry operations shut down, they often leave behind pieces of mining equipment undetectable from the water's surface, including old machinery and sharp-edged, barbed-wire fencing.
With suburban sprawl extending its reach beyond existing neighborhoods, the chances of new inhabitants encountering old mines is steadily increasing. "Such encounters -- whether accidental or planned -- can be deadly," said McAteer.
For more information about "Stay Out -- Stay Alive," visit MSHA's Web site at www.msha.gov.