How to Escape a Cave

How to Escape a Cave
Caving, also known as spelunking, involves hiking underground through holes, passages and crevices. Caving is usually safe, but like many other sports it has inherent risks. One of the biggest risks is being lost or trapped, either due to a cave-in or because a route was improperly followed. It is during these survival situations that it is important to know the basics of how to escape a cave.


Difficulty: Challenging

Escaping a Cave

Things You’ll Need:
  • Flashlight
  • Candle or lighter
  • Reflective flagging tape
Step 1
Assess the situation as soon as you realize you are trapped or lost. Clear yourself and other cavers from immediate danger and then take inventory of everything you have. Pieces of fabric, tape, and paper can be used as markers; food should be rationed immediately upon realizing you are lost.
Step 2
Conserve battery power as much as possible, saving your brightest lights for when you may need them the most. Instead of your headlamp, use a smaller backup flashlight to search for an exit.
Step 3
Calm yourself before you start walking and enter into a survival mind-set. Once you do start moving, walk slowly and deliberately to avoid injury. Remind yourself that most cavers are found and that if you remain focused, survival is highly probable.
Step 4
Put down a marker before leaving your original point. Use reflective tape, an item you don't need, or piles of rocks indicating your direction of travel.
Step 5
Search for the correct exit. Check all available routes by holding a candle in front of them for 30 seconds. Sometimes routes that supply air to the cave will cause the flame to flicker. Check these routes first or choose what appears to be the best route if no flicker is seen.
Step 6
As you search for an exit, leave behind a trail of items to find your way back to your original point. If you reach a dead-end, pick up the items on the way back for reuse.
Step 7
When you find your way out, tell rescuers, friends and family that you are safe. Let other cavers know where you were lost so they can be better equipped to handle that particular cave.

Tips & Warnings

If you have rope, you can use it instead of flagging to find your way back to your point of origin. Simply unwind it as you go and stop when you reach the end.
Never go caving alone.
Pay attention to the ground to avoid falling and tripping.
Always tell someone where you are going and when you will be back.

Article Written By Justin Chen

Justin Chen is a freelance writer and photographer with 6 years of professional experience in outdoor activities, extreme sports, travel and marketing topics. His professional work experience includes publication with KOMO 4 News Seattle, Fisher Interactive Network, and Demand Studios. He is a current Pre-Med student at Walla Walla University.

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