Dangers in a Cemetery

National Center for Preservation Technology & Training


My name is Simeon Warren. I work for the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training. I'm the Chief of Architecture and Engineering and today we're looking at dangers in cemeteries or grave sites as you'll see I'm standing here right now, below me is a tree limb that's fell down, that is kind of blocking entrances. A danger hazard behind me is a tomb with a concrete top that the concrete has broken down and because of the soil here it's kind of gone into the ground. Dangerous issue in case someone's falling in. I walked over there earlier, and there's a big hole in the ground that I nearly fell in. You'll see the metal poles sticking up behind me, as well as, obviously if someone trips over them and falls. It's a danger hazard again, as well. Then again further on you'll see some monuments that again have broken and fallen into the ground. So a lot of issues here because of water getting underneath the monuments and undermining them and so these are just some of the things that we have to be aware of. I think owners of historic sites, a simple opportunity, just to walk around look what you've got, look at the safety issues look at the dangers and try and make sure people other people are aware of them. Not asking you to do anything just become aware of the dangers on your side. Potentially one thing that you could do just to help people be aware of stake out a monument with some danger rope or tape just so that people can say, "oh I need to be aware of that issue right there." Sometimes, when people walk through sites like this they're not thinking about the danger issues or the safety issues that's part of your job as a site owner. So, as I said, today we're just going to look at a few of those issues and again right here I'm just sure you can see some of those those issues so let's go and have a look at some of these things on a number of sites today.

So, again we're just walking through the site. As you can see below me, here just a crevice that has opened up you. Remember, a lot of gravesites have soil disturbance which means soil can easily sink down and leave holes for people to kind of stumble into in this case someone could go straight into the hole and really hurt their legs. Again, so just simple things that we need to be aware of in our sites and take potential some very simple action just to kind of make sure that this isn't a danger for the long term.

When we're looking at the site we have to think sometimes about the landscape issues. We have a road just to the side of us here a lot of moisture from rain comes in and also this drainage system that's been built to deal with now the moisture issues coming in. It goes throughout the whole site. It is actually all coming to this point here and it is causing fairly major erosion issues that are now starting to undermine some of the monuments. We walked around here earlier and we actually found some monuments that were filled totally with water. We need to just take our time just to wonder and just to kind of look and look at these kind of issues.

We just need to be aware of some of the native species that lives in these sites. Remember, these generally wild to some extent sites while they may be managed there's not many people that stay in them most of the time and so just here we have an issue of fire ants that is starting to kind of take over a little bit and there's a number of mounds within this environment here not only is it a safety fights issue for people who kind of are here but in the future this kind of stuff can kind of undermine the monuments and so we really need to take care of this kind of stuff. So again, safety first let's figure out a way to resolve this issue and take that danger out of the sights that we're in.

So, here we are we have a major safety issue here we have a brick box tomb with a marble slab on top. Part of the wall on one side is opened up the bricks have fallen in major issue is a little person could get inside there this whole thing could collapse on top of them in the future we have some organic growth that's happening that could even destabilize this even more this needs to be looked at in the sense of we need to isolate it so that people know it's dangerous and and then we need to deal with this pretty quick

So again, we're here again, with a brick box tomb with a marble top the box has completely been undermined and collapsed there's not much support in the marble on top. Anybody could stand on this and this marble could break. Number one, the marble will break. Number two, it could hurt somebody. So again, another safety issue that we need to isolate and make sure people are aware not to be on this.

So, here we are with a brick box tomb with a marble slab that was redone in 2006 by the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training the bricks are relayed stucco was put on and the marble slab put back on top this should be here for a good long while.

Here we are with two obelisks and we got organic growth growing in between. These were reset in 2009 by NCPTT and as you can see potentially maybe the organic growth the roots weren't taken out and this is coming back so potentially in the near-term future these could be destabilized because of the root growth underneath. So, this has to be resolved. It's going to create safety issue in the future. Another issue, that someone has been riding around on on a ride-on mower. They've kind of driven up to the monument, hit the monument you can see the marks here pushed it if that continues to happen this again this monument could fall over. So, a couple of safety issues there.

Recently, there was a hurricane here a tree came down and collapsed in this area. You can see, some of the stone work has been damaged, but also this fence. We also we have pieces of metal that are sticking up that on all different angles so this becomes a safety issue as you're walking through so we need to deal with this. So, we have a marble monument here that actually looks a little bit like a tree. There's a bit of a safety issue with this one. Potentially, one in the near future right now the monument is moving a little bit. Not much effort to just kind of move that backwards and forwards. That in of itself is a safety issue. Also, we're on the slope. The landscape is sloping down and this is very clay soil around here and so with a just a little bit more kind of rain and we could kind of this could be undermined and this could pretty quickly become a monument that could tip over very easily. So this is the kind of thing we need to look for as a future issue but one that potentially could become a issue pretty quickly in the future.

So, we're looking at dangers in in the cemetery and these are things you have to look for you imagine a little child walking around playing among the stones and one grabs a hold of a stone and this is the kind of danger we're looking for this could fall over especially a little child could actually pull this over. It's so detached from the base so this is a kind of stone that we're looking for we really need to deal with this so this is a stone that is in danger of falling. This is a real quick fix we're gonna lift this down we're gonna place it here we're gonna move the bricks so that it's a little bit more stable and put it back this is not a long-term fix but at least it won't be rocking the way this is working okay when we lift this we're gonna lift this one side here and one underneath so when we lift we're gonna take down I'm gonna put on the edge bring your fingers out and then we can lift it back the other thing that we need to watch for is making sure there's no animals ants bugs that can bite you that's why we're wearing gloves so we're gonna just move this real quick and hopefully stabilize it in a matter of moments.

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Okay, So that's a temporary fix real temporary but at least it's not rocking and moving.

What do you think? So again, just walking around the cemetery the gravesite just making sure you know where the dangers are as a manager of the site you need to resolve these issues. Otherwise someone's going to hurt themselves.


National Center for Preservation, Technology, and Training explores possible dangers in Cemeteries.


12 minutes, 20 seconds



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