Exploration Safety Tips

On this page you will find safety tips to follow if you ever decide to give urban exploration a try yourself. There are various hazards that must be navigated when exploring an abandoned location. Some dangers are easily seen, like a large hole in the floor, and others are completely invisible to the naked human eye, such as asbestos. If you have any questions about urban exploration safety or steps you can take to protect yourself, feel free to email jason@ohioexploration.com.


Safety-AsbestosAsbestos is the most severe danger to any urban explorer. The nasty substance can be found in many abandoned buildings, drains and tunnels as it was commonly used for insulation. When disturbed, asbestos fibers can become airborne and breathed in. Asbestos can cause numerous health problems over time, including an untreatable form of agonizing lung cancer. The risk of health issues due to asbestos exposure are significantly higher in smokers. Since asbestos cannot be seen with the naked eye, always assume it is present at the location being explored. Remember that normal dust masks are useless against asbestos entering the lungs. Only a properly fitted respirator with filters rated for asbestos filtration will protect you. Click Here for a respirator with the correct filters.



Safety-ContaminantsMany other contaminants can be found inside abandoned structures. They can range from industrial waste to biohazardous materials to solvents to used grease to the forbidding black mold. One location we explored had radioactive pollution leftover from the Manhattan Project for many years before the US government came in to clean it up. This is just a sampling of what can be found. Again, always consider wearing a respirator with good filters, gloves, thick-soled boots and overalls or other protective clothing that can easily be removed after the exploration.



Safety-MachineryEven though a location may look abandoned and unused for years, it could still have running electricity. Do not do anything you would not do if you knew there was power going to the equipment. Do not turn valves or flip switches since it is not known what could happen. This can be very dangerous to both you, those around you and the structure itself. Make sure to wear gloves and exercise extreme caution if you decide to check out old rusty machinery.


Structural Stability

If a location has been abandoned for any amount of time, there is always the chance of things falling down or falling through. Just leaning against a wall could cause it to move or collapse in some locations. Watch for floors and ceilings that look unsound and avoid walking there. Always use extreme caution when using staircases as the stairs could be weak and fall through. In 2001, two OES members nearly fell through a second story floor while exploring an abandoned house because they were not paying close enough attention to the floor. You can watch this video as an OES member falls through a hole inside an abandoned schoolhouse. Make certain to pay attention to where you are going, use caution, and use common sense to safely navigate while exploring an abandoned structure.


Group Safety

Safety-GroupSafetyA minimum of three people should be present when exploring an abandoned structure. If someone is injured during the exploration, this will allow one person to stay with the injured party while the other goes for help. Whenever possible, someone in the group should carry a cell phone and first-aid kit to be prepared for such an event. Always tell someone who is not attending the exploration where you are going and when you expect to be back in case the entire group encounters a problem. Also make sure to always carry proper identification and offer to show it if you encounter law enforcement.