Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Urban Exploration & Safety

Old Broken Hinge - Mojave, California
You've gotta be careful out there. The world can be a dangerous place, and when you climb through abandoned locations it can be especially dangerous.

There are a lot of hazards that go along with urban exploration. There's a lot to consider and plan for. There are many precautions that one should take.

Tumbledown Window - Mojave, California
There are so many different potential hazards while urban exploring that it would be impossible to list them all. I have encountered many, but I have certainly not yet encountered all potential hazards.

While urban exploring you'll likely encounter structural hazards. Abandoned buildings are often in a state of dilapidation. A wall could fall. The roof could cave in. The floor break. There are tripping and slipping dangers. It is possible to fall from or within multiple story structures. It is important to examine any abandoned building before entering to ensure that it is structurally sound. If not, then stay out. Even if a building appears sturdy, it may be more fragile than you realize, so proceed with extreme caution.

Another common danger, and one that's easily overlooked, are inhalation hazards. There could be asbestos, mold, and other particles and contaminants. I've heard stories about some abandoned military structures that still register nuclear radiation. There are a lot of bad things that you could be breathing in or otherwise exposed to. These are often hidden dangers. A respirator or breathing mask of some sort is an important precaution. Also try to limit the time you stay inside of an abandoned structure so that you keep the harmful exposure to a minimum.

There are many physical dangers found in abandoned structures. Broken glass might be on the floor. Rusty nails could be sticking out of a wall. There could be drug needles. Human or animal excrement. Spilled chemicals. These are things that you do not want to touch. You should wear shoes and clothing that give you the most protection from contact with unwanted elements. Keep a close eye on your surroundings so that you do not accidentally come in contact with dangerous items.

Animals and venomous snakes and insects also pose a threat. Be aware of what these hazards might be in the local area so you know what to watch out for. Assume that something is lurking in that dark room or corner or under that pile.

Besides all of that, you might encounter transients, angry property owners, vandals, drug dealers and possibly even gang activity. You don't want to get stabbed or shot, so if you see someone else on the property, if you are not sure what they're up to, it may be best to stay away.

Forgotten Faucet - Tehachapi, California
I've already mentioned a number of precautions that you should take while urban exploring, but I'll cover some more. I'll also repeat some because they're worth repeating.

If it appears that you are not wanted at an abandoned location, then you should keep out. Some people break to enter. I don't. If an effort has been made to keep me out, I stay out. This is a good policy because some places are closed because they're not safe and because this reduces the risk of being confronted (or arrested) for trespassing.

You should wear appropriate clothes and shoes. Wear a mask or respirator, if appropriate. Consider wearing a hardhat. Be careful where you step and what you touch. Bring a flashlight. Have a charged cell phone. Have a first aid kit and some water. Travel with a friend or group.

Don't take risks. If something looks like it might be unsafe, then treat it as if it is unsafe. Simply put, be careful out there. It's dangerous, so look out for yourself and anyone you might be with.

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