Urban exploring can be a dangerous hobby. Stepping into the unknown, exploring places that are falling down and are filled with god knows what obviously comes with its risks… but so does a lot of hobbies. Safety isn’t something you want to ignore, even if it sounds boring, it’s going to pay off in the long run when you are still fit and able to keep exploring.
What To Wear
PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is your last line of defence i.e. you should only need it if every other safety measure goes wrong. Even though it is the last line of defence it is one of the easiest things you can do to stay safe and limit harm so I will cover it first. This is not an exhaustive list, you can wear more or less than mentioned, it is really down to you… I am not your mum. Let’s Work from the bottom up.
Surprise, surprise the floors of abandoned places are covered in nails, broken glass, sharp things as well as being unstable, uneven and sometimes slippery. A Good sturdy safety boot protects you against multiple things. Propper ancle support will stop you twisting them when you stand on uneven ground. Proper grippy treads will keep you on your feet. A sturdy soul, or even a soul with a steel insert to stop sharp things coming though will save you a trip to A&E. A good set of boots will make your exploring safer and more enjoyable so don’t skimp out!
Pushing your way through brambles and climbing past broken glass is much less fun when it’s against your bare skin. Covering up can also protect you against things that may be harm your skin too. Find some canvas cargo trousers that won’t rip too easy and have plenty of pockets for your torch and supplies.
As mentioned exploring abandoned buildings includes coming into contact with a lot of sharp things and materials and chemicals that could irritate your skin. Gloves also have the added benefit of keeping your hands clean. Find a pair of work gloves that will protect your palms and give you good grip if you need to climb something.
The term “falling down building” can help give you an idea why a hard hat might help. Although it may make you stand out when you are trying to blend in, it could save you from a “serious clonk” (medical term).
Love is in the air, just kidding, it’s asbestos. Older buildings are very likely to have harmful dust particles and asbestos in them, both of which can cause serious problems and in some cases death. Find yourself a PP3 rated mask, that will keep any of the bad stuff out of your lungs. A Mask might also help with the smell of some places too!
Falling from heights is the biggest killer in terms of urbex accidents. Often times the barriers to stop you falling are non-existent or no longer sturdy, stay away from edges and keep a look out while you are walking (not playing on your phone or camera). Yes, you can get some really cool pictures from up heigh and yes for some people there is some enjoyment to reaching the best vantage point but just be aware of the dangers and don’t put your weight on anything without testing how sturdy it is first.
Slips Trips and Falls
This is the most common accident, mainly because there is so much to slip on, trip over and fall down. The best way to protect yourself from this is to keep your eyes out. Don’t play on your phone or camera while walking, stay focused until you get to somewhere safe to stop. Regarding falling, there are a lot of weak floors you will come into contact with. When walking on floors, stick to the larger beams (even if you can’t see them, look for nails in wooden floors as a guide). Try and apply your weight slowly to floors you don’t trust and if possible, lay something stronger across a floor to spread your load.
This is the main thing people ask me about and worry about. First off, the best way to limit your exposure to asbestos (apart from quitting urbex) is to not disturb anything. Asbestos is safe if the fibres/ dust is not in the air so don’t move things, break things or cause too much disturbance. your other line of defence is your mask.
Safety In numbers
Go exploring with a friend, being with someone makes you a lot safer. If you get stuck somewhere, injured, lost, bump into someone who isn’t very nice then having a friend with you to get help or have your back will increase your safety massive amounts. It’s also nice to have someone to talk to and hold your bag while you climb down from somewhere.