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Coal Mine Safety
For centuries and throughout the world, miners have been taking canary birds in small wood/metal cages down into the mines to warn them of potential danger, to test for noxious and poisonous gases, especially carbon monoxide, which is colorless and has no taste or smell. If a tunnel or shaft collapses or is blocked, diminishing the oxygen supply, the canary will be the first to react, swaying on his perch, usually dying, alerting the miners trouble and to immediately vacate the mine. Because the canaries are small with high metabolism, they have rapid heart beat causing them to take in more air, succumbing before the miners, thereby giving the miners time to take action. This songbird has saved countless human lives.
New Technology Replacing Canaries: Digital CO detectors that warn miners of danger came about in 1986 (ending the use of canaries in coal mines.)
The saying: “like a canary in a coal mine”, is used as indicator of danger.