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Delve into the Earth with these Spelunking Safety Tips

by Benjamin Kerns

Mar 11, 2020

Jomblang Cave, Gunungkidul, Indonesia © Widi Setiawan | Dreamstime

Tips / Safety

Spelunking is an exciting activity gaining traction around the world. Daring explorers jump at the opportunity to discover caves in far-off destinations, but far too many don’t consider all the risks. Keep these tips in mind before embarking on a cave diving adventure.


Never go alone. It is never a good idea to go spelunking on your own. Even the most experienced cave explorer can get lost in a new system. One wrong turn and you could find yourself trapped with no way out and no help on the way. Groups should be no smaller than four people.


Always wear a helmet. Too many people dive headfirst into a new venture without the proper gear. A helmet is an absolute must when spelunking. There are many sharp edges and jutting rocks in caves to risk a knock on the head. If you pass out in a cave it can be nearly impossible for your friends to carry you back out.


Test your ropes. Ropes are your lifeline in a cave. They’re required to get in and out, which is why it’s essential you test them. Check for frayed edges, signs of excessive wear and tear and any spots where the rope looks thin. It’s also a good idea to have an extra safety line as a backup when spelunking.


Carry a first-aid kit. Scratches are going to happen when spelunking and caves are ripe with opportunities for nasty infections. Stagnant water is abundant and the moist, dank atmosphere is ripe for disease. Do not leave an open wound unattended in a cave. Bring along a first-aid kit to patch yourself up before continuing on your exploration, lest you catch something like leptospirosis.


Stay clear of bad weather. One of the worst things you can do when spelunking is to ignore the weather. Cave systems can flood quickly in a rainstorm, cutting off your exits or, worse, drowning you before help arrives. Always check the weather report before entering any cave, and turn back if it’s calling for rain.


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