A Cautionary Tale

The UE Community has developed a number of official and unofficial rules that are followed religiously and for very good reason – they keep you safe and alive. While the basis for these rules is common sense you might be surprised how many amateur UE’ers end up hurt or dead for not following them.

The Top 10 Rules of UE

(1) Do NOT go into Drains when it is raining
(2) Do NOT explore alone
(3) Do NOT open manhole covers from below if you do not know what is above you
(4) Do NOT remain in a location if there are bad/strange smells.
(5) DO carry extra safety gear and an extra torch and batteries
(6) ALWAYS file a day plan with someone who can call for help if you don’t return on time
(7) Be very careful when using ladders, stairs, and in-place structure to climb
(8) Be aware of any warning signs posted on the site and mind them.
(9) Bring extra water and food

It’s Fast that Danger Thing

Conditions can change in a matter of seconds and often without warning. Three amateur UE’ers discovered that in the sewers beneath Sydney – and two of them died as a result. Exploring the bone-dry tunnels of “The Fortress” (a section of sewers so named by The Predator, who is often considered the founder of UU in Eastern Oz), an unexpected rainstorm caused a flash-fill that killed two of the three and washed the third out into Lurline Bay. The bloke that was washed into the bay was very very lucky – he had to pass through a narrow opening in the grate that covered the end of the ejection tube that was created by Predator back in the 1990’s – odds of doing that so wide that you couldn’t get a Sydney bookman to take that bet…

In Utah two teenagers died when they encountered a pocket of poison gas in the access tunnels of an abandoned mine pumping facility. It is thought that they did not know how to recognize bad air, and remained in the tunnels, their death a product of that ignorance.

In Belgium a UE’er was trapped in the basement of an old hospital when a door closed behind him that could not be opened from inside the cell he had entered. He starved to death – a death that took weeks thanks to the supply of fresh water in the room.

A UE’er in Alaska died while exploring an old fish cannery when a section of walkway he was on collapsed.

Hundreds of people have died in the past decade while exploring Urban and Underground spaces, and for the most part they died from ignorance or from careless acts. UE’ing does not have to lead to death, but when you don’t know what you are doing it CAN.

A Solution?

Educate yourself. Don’t take chances! Seriously! Having a plan and using the right gear is a start, but first you should seek out an experienced UE’er and learn from them. Then begin building your own UE survival set. Take basic and advanced first aid courses. Always create a UE plan and file it with someone you can trust to raise an alarm if you fail to turn up when you are supposed to.

Now having said all that I want to underscore the most important tool that should be part of your kit: research. Prior to visiting a site you should always research that site first. Check it out online, see what others have encountered. Check the government databases to find out of there are contaminates or other known dangers on the site. If there are, it is time to consider whether or not this is a location you want to explore.

Remember safety happens between your ears, not in your hands.