Urban Exploration is one of the most underrated yet fun and dynamic hobbies out there. It allows you to connect with your surroundings and get to know cool and interesting places that you might’ve otherwise never had seen or heard of. However, it is a somewhat dangerous hobby that takes you to places forgotten by most of society.
Places that no one cares about. Places that people don’t think twice about when walking by. It is for this reason that it is important you take every precaution possible before stepping foot inside an abandoned building to explore it.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands of new people decide to take part in the urbex hobby every single day. They get together with friends one random day and go visit that abandoned building they’ve passed by so many times. They go in unprepared and without a care in the world.
They think they’ll just walk in through the backdoor and start exploring or taking photos of the abandoned building without permission. They don’t bother to take any precautions before they go inside. That’s because they don’t know the possible dangers this hobby carries. They take nothing but their cellphone to use in case of an emergency and as their flashlight. While they’re inside, one wrong move, one simple careless act ends up hurting them badly. Sometimes badly enough to land them in the hospital.
I can’t tell you how many news articles I’ve read in the past of people getting hurt or caught while exploring abandoned buildings. It happens more times than you think. By not being prepared when you go inside an abandoned building, your chances of getting hurt increase two-fold. Knowing what to look out for, what to do, and what not to do, can help you walk out of an abandoned building unharmed.
It is for this reason that I’ve put together this short and sweet post, about how to stay safe when exploring an abandoned building. I don’t want to see any more people get hurt. I know my website, Urbexiam.com, has a small reach. But if I can at least help out 1 person, maybe you, the person currently reading this then this entire write-up will have been worth it.
With that said, sit down, take notes, and really pay attention to what I’m about to say.
What You Should Do Before Exploring An Abandoned Building
As exciting as going into an abandoned place might be, you shouldn’t do it out of the blue. Urban exploring, even as a hobby, takes time and preparation. You shouldn’t just see a cool empty building and decide to go in before doing a little bit of research first.
Having even a tiny understanding of what the place you’re looking to explore was before its owners abandoned it, can not only give you some cool insights into the history of the building, but it could also reveal why its occupants left it and for how long it’s been sitting empty. Having this basic information will give you an idea of the state of the safety of the building.
That being said, the first piece of advice I will give you is: Plan your Urbex trip. You start by doing some basic research on Google of the location you’re wanting to explore before you even decide to visit. The best way of going about doing that is to search for the building on Google Maps.
If for whatever reason the building name isn’t showing, get the address instead. Once you find the name of the building or its address, copy and paste it into Google with the city name it’s in and see what information pops up.
If there’s no info on Google, and Google Maps isn’t showing anything, then go visit the location during the daytime. Don’t actually go inside, simply scout out the place from a safe distance. Walk around the area and see if you spot anything that gives you a bad feeling about the place.
Take a good look at the building and see if you can spot any damage to it. Are there people hanging around the building? Is the roof caving in? Are there broken walls, windows, doors, etc..?
Having this information will help you understand and get to know the building you’re going in much better and it will help you prepare for what’s to come.
Things To Look Out For When Exploring An Abandoned Building
You’ve done your research on the building, you’ve scouted the place out from a safe distance to find any potential dangers the building has, from an outside perspective that is. With this information, you now have a better understanding of what to expect. Now you’re ready to make your way inside the building to start exploring. This is where the fun begins.
Once you’re inside the building though, you shouldn’t let your guard down. On the contrary, you need to be focused on your surroundings. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your exploration. All I’m saying is to pay attention to where you’re going and what you’re doing. This is to help you avoid running into any potential dangers while you’re inside the building.
Some things you should be on the lookout for are:
- Falling ceilings
- Broken staircase
- Caved in floor
- Broken glass
- Exposed wiring
- Wet areas
Most of the things I’ve listed above are things you’ll encounter in abandoned buildings. Especially really old ones. These can be the most interesting ones to explore, but they are also the most dangerous ones, due to how old they are.
Again, the more you know about the place you’re about to visit, the more prepared you’ll be to stay safe when exploring. So make sure to do your research and find out if the places you’re going have any of those possible threats.
What You Shouldn’t Do When Urban Exploring
Now that we’re over the things you should look out for when exploring part, let’s talk a bit about what you SHOULDN’T do when you’re exploring. There are so many things I could list off here but I’ll try to focus on only 4 of them. These 4 alone should be enough to keep you safe when urban exploring. The first of those rules is:
1) Don’t explore alone!
Many explorers, myself included, tend to avoid this rule when first starting out with urban exploration. You think you’ll just go into a building and explore a couple of minutes then simply walk out. Novices to this hobby don’t fully know the dangers of exploring an abandoned building carries.
This is why they think it’s okay to explore on their lonesome when they have no one to join them. Exploring alone is quite dangerous and should be avoided at all times! Seriously, if you can’t go with a friend, avoid going alone. Maybe your friends don’t like exploring, what you can do is join Urban Exploring Forums and find like-minded people in your area that you can explore with. But always avoid exploring alone.
2) Don’t rush your exploration.
There have been times when friends of mine agreed to go out on an exploring trip. But they can only be there for a short amount of time. Which means we have to rush around the place to get to see as much of it as possible in a short amount of time. This not only sucks but can also be dangerous. As you’re trying to get around to seeing as much of the building as possible, you’re not really paying careful attention to your surroundings.
Which can ultimately cost you if you end up getting hurt by doing something you shouldn’t of. You can easily tell how much time it will take to explore an abandoned building simply by seeing a picture of it on Google Maps. If you think you don’t have enough time to fully explore the building, then simply don’t go. Schedule a different date to visit when you have enough time to comfortably explore without being rushed.
3) Don’t go to unsafe areas of the building.
Let’s be honest, some of the coolest looking areas of a building are ones that are in complete ruin or isolation. Areas where an upper floor room has no walls and you can see everything from above. Places with underground rooms with shady stairs that creak when setting foot on them. These types of places are simply irresistible to any explorer. But these areas can also be the most unsafe area in the entire building.
All buildings are different, so it’s up to you to decide if a certain area of the place you’re exploring is safe or not. If you come up with the conclusion that the area you want to explore is NOT safe, then turn around and walk away. There are other places in the building that can be just as interesting to explore and that are completely safe.
4) Don’t push your luck.
I had to learn this one the hard way. I’ve written about this incident before but I don’t’ remember which post I talked about it on. I was with friends exploring the second floor of this cool 1930’s house in a friend’s neighborhood. You could tell by the look of the ceiling on the first floor that the second-story floor was damaged and could potentially cave in at any minute.
Well, even with this knowledge, stupid ‘ol me decided it would be a good idea to explore the second story area anyway. I was the first one to walk up the stairs and set foot on the second floor. After about my 7th step, my foot sank in to floor up to my ankle and I fell to my knees. My friends all gasped and asked if I was okay. I said I was fine and pulled my foot out from the floor. I decided to try my luck and step on a different area of the second floor and after a couple more steps my ENTIRE right foot sank into the floor!
I was lucky the whole damn floor didn’t give in at that moment. After about 10 seconds of being on the ground with my foot dangling out the 2nd floor, a friend helped me up and we got the F out of that place. I was extremely lucky to have walked out of that building alive honestly. All I had were some scratches and a bruise on my upper leg. That day I pushed my luck and nearly got killed. Learn from my mistake!
What You Should Do When Exploring
You’ve chosen a building you want to explore. You’ve done your research on the building and have planned your urbex trip. You know what things to look out for when exploring, and things to avoid. Now let me state some obvious things you SHOULD do when urban exploring to stay safe.
- Explore during the daytime. Yes, I know exploring an abandoned building during the night sounds extremely exciting, and it is (I’ve done it!), but most places can be equally awesome during the day. Not to mention it’s way safer. If it’s your first-time urban exploring, I highly recommend you go during the day.
- Carry the proper equipment with you. It’s important to bring with you some type of gear for exploring abandoned houses. A flashlight, extra batteries, first aid kit, fully charged cellphone, water, snack, plus whatever else you think might be useful to you to stay safe. Take it all in a backpack to keep your pockets free.
- Stay out of drains. Exploring drains is a hell of a lot more dangerous than exploring buildings. Know the difference and unless you’re interested in exploring drains, stay the hell out of them.
- Always let someone know where you’re going. Even if you’re exploring with friend/s, you should let others know where it is you’ll be and at what time to expect you. This is a safety precaution in case something happens to you.
Urban exploration can be an interesting hobby to have, but it can also be a dangerous one if you’re not careful. Properly planning your trip and knowing what to do, what to look out for, and what not to do, can really help you stay safe while exploring an abandoned building. Follow the steps I’ve laid out in this post, respect the place you’re exploring, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t stay safe when exploring an abandoned building.