Cave Safety

Cave Safety Tips

ALL WILD CAVES in the OZARK NATIONAL SCENIC RIVERWAYS ARE CLOSED. This is to prevent the spread of White Nose Syndrome, a disease of bats which is killing them in unprecedented numbers. Please stay out of caves along the rivers.

Cave exploration can be fun and exciting. It can also be dangerous. Christopher Columbus was a great explorer, but he didn't set off for the New World with only a canoe and a peanut butter sandwich! He had the right equipment and supplies for his adventure and so should you.

Imagine you are deep in a cave. You are looking at a beautiful stalactite, you take a step back... you step on a loose shifts, you stumble...... you drop your flashlight..... it hits a rock...... it breaks.... TOTAL DARKNESS!

It would be impossible to crawl out to safety. It's cold.... it's dark.... your foot hurts.... you are beginning to get hungry. What are you going to do? The best way to get out of this situation is not to get into it in the first place! The following safety rules will keep you safe. They are the ones followed by the National Speleological Society, a group of professional cave explorers.

  1. Kids should never explore caves without an adult.
  2. Each person must have at least four reliable lights.
  3. Never, ever, go in a cave alone. The minimum is four people. If someone gets hurt, one person can stay with the hurt person while two go for help. One person should wait at the entrance to the cave while the fourth person notifies the Sheriff or Park Rangers. This makes it easier to find the cave again when the rescuers arrive.
  4. ALWAYS tell a responsible adult exactly where you are going and when you'll be back. Just because you don't come home for dinner doesn't mean anybody will think to look in a cave. They may think you've run away and joined the circus!
  5. Don't run or jump in a cave. Even a sprained ankle can be deadly in a cave.
  6. Don't go in a cave when there is rain predicted for the area. Caves often flood suddenly. Many deaths in caves are due to drowning.
  7. Never touch or damage stalactites or other cave formations. These take thousands of years to grow. Even a light touch of a finger is enough to mar one!
  8. The best way to explore caves is to go on an organized tour, like the ones at Round Spring Caverns, or tag along with a caving club. Caving clubs, also called "grottoes," are located all over. Call the Geology Department of your nearest college. Someone there will know how to contact your local caving group. They welcome interested young people.

Caves are beautiful and fascinating parts of the natural world. Enjoy them safely!

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Last updated: April 10, 2015

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