How to avoid landmines and what to do if you find one

An official sign marking a dangerous area
An official sign marking a dangerous area

Landmines and explosive devices remain one of the biggest threats to civilians in Ukraine - and will remain so for the duration of the war.

Complete humanitarian demining of the country is only possible after the war ends.

Approximately 300 Ukrainian civilians, including 15 children, have died from landmine explosions in frontline and de-occupied areas since the Russian full-scale invasion started, Ukraine’s Interior Minister, Ihor Klymenko, reported in April 2024.

Around 25% of Ukraine's territory is now contaminated with explosive remnants.

Demining in Ukraine is divided into three stages:

Read also: 757 years needed to fully demine Ukraine at current pace, GLOBSEC analysts estimate

  1. Combat Demining: Military personnel clear the mines as they advance

  2. Operational Demining: Police and rescuers stabilize de-occupied areas

  3. Humanitarian Demining: Complete and thorough removal of explosive devices from both land and water

"The area can be considered safe for civilians and economic activities only after humanitarian demining is finished. A certificate from demining operators confirms this," Klymenko said.

“Unfortunately, this is a very lengthy process. Full humanitarian demining on a national scale will only be possible after the war."

Until then, landmines pose a threat to thousands of Ukrainians.

Here are some basic rules on how to stay safe in mined or potentially dangerous areas, according to the Strategic Communications and Information Security Center and the Ukrainian Health Ministry's Center for Public Health.

Read also: UNDP trials innovative technologies that could rid Ukraine of landmines in 10 years

Basic rules if you discover a mine

What not to do:

  1. Do not touch the discovered item

  2. Do not conduct any work near the item

  3. Do not smoke or use open flames

  4. Do not use electronic devices (make calls from a safe distance)

  5. Do not pour liquids on, cover with soil, or try to conceal the item

  6. Do not allow people to gather near the item

What to do:

  1. Stay calm and do not touch anything

  2. Warn everyone nearby

  3. Cease all current activities

  4. Move back as far as possible using the same route, step by step

  5. Inform the authorities by calling 101 and 102

  6. Keep others away from the dangerous area until specialists arrive

Read also: Ukraine develops drone for mine detection, works ‘four times faster than a human’

Minimum safe distances from mines and explosives

  • Anti-personnel blast mine: 50 meters

  • Anti-tank mine: 150 meters

  • Cluster munitions, hand grenades: 200 meters

  • Anti-personnel fragmentation mine: 300 meters

  • Mortar mine: 500 meters

  • Artillery shells: 800 meters

  • Aerial bombs: 1500 meters

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How to reduce the risk of encountering a mine

Pay attention to signs indicating dangerous areas.

Ukraine's State Emergency Services (SES) identifies four main types of warning signs:

  1. Official warning signs: Square or triangular signs with a red background featuring a skull and crossbones and warnings such as "Warning, Mines!" or "Danger, Mines!"

  2. Unofficial warning signs: Homemade signs with warnings or even the word "Mines!" on fences, roads, or walls

  3. Evidence and consequences of explosive devices: Disturbed soil, fragments of explosives, or unexploded ordnance

  4. Behavioral evidence: Overgrown grass, dense vegetation, abandoned agricultural fields, and unused roads or paths

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine