Visiting vacant buildings is a very popular hobby, but when urbexing, there are some basic safety rules to follow that will reduce the dangers lurking. Find out what to look out for!
Abandoned buildings are places where you can encounter many harmful substances, bacteria or viruses that negatively affect the explorer’s respiratory system. Any information regarding potential chemicals should be posted on the entrance gate to a specific location, but poorly secured rooms may not have warning signs. Harmful substances can be expected in abandoned factories or workplaces. These types of hazards can include asbestos, bird droppings, chemical residue or toxic mold. An effective protection against these types of compounds is to wear a respirator. With an extra layer covering the respiratory system, you reduce the risk of being poisoned or infected by viruses found in animal feces. Also remember to wash or disinfect your hands thoroughly after urbex.
Buildings visited during urbex very often do not meet the basic safety rules and are in a state of demolition. The risk of structural collapse is very high, especially if the building has been unattended for many years. When visiting a vacant building, be careful of stairs, landings or entrances to the upper floors. One step can lead to a hole and a painful fall. Before visiting, it’s a good idea to check online forums for information from other travelers about the safety of specific structures. If you’re not sure whether a building is in danger of collapsing, better abandon your trip and change the location.
Vacant buildings can very quickly become a new home for many animals. When visiting, it is advisable to watch out for possible travel companions and take with you means to deter animals if necessary. Locations that are visited by many urbex enthusiasts should not be inhabited by wild animals such as foxes, boars, martens or deer. However, in less popular buildings you can expect not only wild animals, which can pose a real threat, but also cats, dogs, rats, mice, bats or birds, which can be a source of bacteria and viruses. Wasp or bee nests can be just as dangerous.
This type of danger primarily affects sites close to bodies of water or storm sewers. The most important safety rule when visiting these types of sites is to choose the right weather. Storm sewers should not be visited in the rain or when precipitation is forecast. Water can get into the canals very quickly, and it will be very difficult to get out of them. As part of your urbex preparation, it is a good idea to carefully study the route or map of the specific location and check where and how far away there are exits that will allow you to escape quickly in case of an emergency.
Most buildings that are permanently out of service have their electricity cut off, but you can never be 100% sure. For this reason, do not touch any electrical wires, wiring remnants or exposed cables. If a distinctive buzzing sound is heard in the building, you may suspect that the electrical supply has not been disconnected. The danger of electrocution is especially great when exploring basements. Accumulating water combined with electricity can be a potential source of electric shock. For this reason, it’s a good idea to carefully check the location you’re visiting for accumulating water or puddles and meticulously avoid them during your urbex.
Featured photo: James Loesch / flickr.com