As with any outdoor activity, there are many different elements that can pose a danger to those participating. However, the dangers of caving are drastically reduced when you go with a guided tour, as a trained instructor will know the caves well and be able to guide you through safely.
In this blog post, we’ll look at the main dangers of caving (also known as spelunking) and our top tips for staying safe while exploring.
Dangers of Caving
Like any thrill-seeker sport, caving is dangerous if you don’t carefully follow best practices. Some of the main risks associated with caving include:
- Flooding or fast-moving water
Did you know that just 30cm of fast-flowing water is enough to move a car? Just half of that is enough to knock a person down and make it very difficult for them to regain their footing, and any flowing water can make caving dangerous if the cave system floods.
- Hitting your head
This might come from debris falling above, low ceilings or falls. Keeping a safety helmet on is vital for a caving experience, as it will protect you if you do hit your head. Helmets should be replaced if they experience any significant impact, as this could reduce their efficacy.
Not wearing a helmet while caving is dangerous because it can lead to serious injury and, depending on the cave and how far down you are, rescue might be difficult.
This is all about knowing your ability level – if you’re new to caving, it’s best to go out with someone more experienced or take a guided trip. Don’t start out in the middle of nowhere, and have a solid evacuation plan in case you need it. Additionally, make sure someone who is not going on your expedition knows where you are going, how long you should be and when you should be back.
- Losing your footing
Slips and falls can be treacherous when you’re caving, so moving slowly and always ensuring you have a strong footing is important.
All these potential dangers of caving are taken into account by How Stean Gorge when organising a caving experience, so you don’t have to worry. We carry out detailed risk assessments, check our equipment and know the cave systems very well. Our guides will keep you perfectly safe as long as you follow their instructions and keep your safety equipment on.
The Caving Rules of Three
- Always cave with at least three other people
- Always have at least three independent sources of light
- Always have three points of contact as you move through the cave
How to Stay Safe While Caving
On a guided tour, staying safe while caving is as easy as watching your step and listening to your instructor. When taking part in a caving experience, you should:
- Listen carefully to the briefing before you go and ask any questions you might have.
- Wear appropriate clothing – see our blog to learn what to wear while caving.
- Wear all safety gear correctly – if it feels uncomfortable, tell your instructor but don’t remove it yourself.
- Cover any cuts before you go in – having an open wound while caving is dangerous as it would be open to any germs or dirt in the cave.
- Speak up if you are struggling, either physically or mentally, and be aware that others in your group might not be at the same level as you.
- Don’t pick up or throw any debris you come across.
- Wash your hands after exiting the cave.
Some of the things the instructor will cover, or that you will have to do yourself if you are going without a guide, include:
- Checking that all equipment is in good working order prior to caving.
- Checking water levels in the caves and expected rainfall.
- Having an evacuation plan in place.
- Being prepared to adapt or abandon routes as necessary.
- Getting permits to cave in a certain area.
Guided Caving Expeditions with How Stean Gorge
Caving with How Stean Gorge is the safest way to undertake this thrilling experience. At How Stean Gorge, we are AALA-licensed, meaning that we have been certified as having good safety management practices in place, with due regard to the benefits and risks of the activity. You can see our risk assessments and other important safety information on our website. In addition, we can arrange for a visit to the site in advance of a group or residential booking if you would like – please get in touch with our team to organise a viewing.
Our instructors all hold British Caving Association qualifications and are very familiar with the cave systems we use; they will make the call of whether or not caving is too dangerous for that day based on factors like the weather conditions or water level. We also check our safety equipment daily for signs of breakage or wear.
Caving with How Stean Gorge is so safe that we even offer an Adventure Caving and Camping experience, where the cave is your tent. Spend the night underground and have a tasty English breakfast in Stump Cross Café to celebrate!
While caving is dangerous, as all thrill-seeker sports are, when you do a caving experience with How Stean Gorge, the dangers of caving are minimised by our top-notch safety policies and procedures.