Birds     |     Dogs     |     Cats     |     Small Pets



Canaries and how they

saved the lives

of coal miners














Please Help Pets by Donating One Dollar






Canaries in the Coal Mines


One of coal miningís earliest systems for warning of the presence
of methane gas, the canary in the coal mine, though low-tech, was
extremely effective and rather easy to read: if the bird died,
miners had to get out of the shaft.


As coal mines became deeper, so did problems of ventilation.
Gas was an eternal problem in the mines, without adequate
oxygen in the air, the miner's would die.


The Solution: taking canaries into the mine. If the canary
died, there was gas and the miners needed to leave the pit.


The bright yellow canary birds were an early coal miner's life
insurance policy. Carried below ground in cages, the animals'
highly sensitive metabolism detected methane and carbon monoxide
gas traces that signaled potential explosions, poisoned air or
both.


On their web site MSHA (Mine Safety Health Adminstration)
says "Canaries were preferred over mice to alert coal miners
to the presence of carbon monoxide underground.... For
instance, when consumed by the effects of carbon monoxide,
a canary would sway noticeably on his perch before falling."


According to tests conducted by the Bureau of Mines, canaries
were preferred over mice to alert coal miners to the presence of
carbon monoxide underground, because canaries more visibly
demonstrated signs of distress in the presence of small
quantities of the noxious gas. For instance, when consumed by the
effects of carbon monoxide, a canary would sway noticeably on his
perch before falling, a much better indicator of danger than the
limited struggle and squatting, extended posture a mouse might
assume.



Canaries: Warning System for Coal Miners

Early coal miners didnít have the special equipment miners
have today to measure gas in the air, so it was impossible to
tell if the gases were building up to dangerous levels.

Miners started to use canaries to test the air quality in the
mines. Canaries are very sensitive to carbon monoxide. The
canaries would chirp and sing and make noise all day long.
But, if the carbon monoxide levels got too high, the canaries
would have trouble breathing, and maybe even die. When the
canaries were no longer singing, miners would know that the
gas levels were too high. They would leave the mine quickly
to avoid being caught in an explosion. This is how canaries
acted as a warning system for miners.


See Also:

Gases in Coal Mining

Pictures of Canaries in the Coal Mines

The most famous canary is Tweety Bird of Looney Tune fame.

All about Canaries & Canaries as Pet Birds

American Singer Canaries



Picture Canary Bird with Coal Miner




Stuffed Plush Birds you'll Totally Enjoy Having

Calendars Featuring Adorable Canaries


Home


Custom Search