Cavers face a variety of challenges. Here's a quick list of what you or a member of your party may face:

Exposed Climbs
Complicated Route Finding
Entrapment
Bad Air
Dehydration
Passage Flooding
Swift / Deep Water
Equipment Failure / Misuse
Unstable Floors, Ceilings and Walls
Uneven Footing
Lack of Light
Hypothermia
Exhaustion and Fatigue
Psychological Emergencies
Dangerous Wildlife
Medical Conditions
Beginners and experienced cavers face separate challenges in caving safety, but these still simply amount to recognizing the risks and developing ways to minimize them.
 
 Beginners

If you're new to caving, you're at a real disadvantage in knowing what hazards you face (and sometimes where your fears are unfounded). Your best start is to learn from an organized group. These can include scouting groups, community programs or college outing clubs. The most common way to learn is through the National Speleological Society, otherwise known as the NSS. Please go to our Links page to visit the NSS web site or the web site for one of their local chapters (known as Grottos).

 Experienced Cavers

You face a special challenge in preventing accidents. You probably have a pretty good history at recognizing and minimizing your caving risks. But experienced cavers still die and get injured on a routine basis. Reasons vary, but usually include some mix of complacency and training.

While complacency is probably the biggest culprit for experienced cavers, there's not much that can be said here. Just think about the impact of your decisions before you choose to forgo basic things like double-checking your rig, or leaving word of your trip in case you're overdue.

Even experienced cavers face training issues. Whether you're facing leadership skills, vertical techniques, or just a new caving area; there are a lot of readily available resources to help you attempt new techniques that you may need for caving. Our Links page can direct you to some of the online resources. This also applies to your established skills, since techniques regularly change to address known problems.

Finally, we recommend that you get some kind of first aid and/or self rescue training. When an accident does happen, the skills and training of the caving party have a big influence on the outcome. Course suggestions for cavers include First Aid (ideally one that addresses wilderness care), Orientation to Cave Rescue (known as OCR), and Small Party Self Rescue (sporadically available, but an excellent program). Occasionally visit our Calendar page, since we will post announcements for area courses.

 
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