Desert Caving Safety

Desert Caving Safety
Spelunking is an exciting hobby that brings with it a number of potentially life-threatening pitfalls. This is especially true when caving in extreme areas, such as ice or desert caves. Learning about desert caving safety is crucial when you are ready to visit the endless sand dunes and the harsh environs that make up most desert regions. Know what animals to expect, what temperatures to brave, and also know ahead of time what kind of gear you absolutely cannot be without. Read on for definitive tips on desert caving safety that might just save your life.

Establish an Itinerary

Plan your desert caving expedition on paper, and then make sure someone knows where you will be and your timeline. In some cases, a rescue depends on arriving in time to pull you to safety, and only a second party who knows to call for help when you do not check in at predetermined intervals will be able to assist you with this.
Check in with the keeper of your itinerary. A great device is the Spot Satellite Messenger that allows you to send updates to friends and family, and even sends out a help request.


Know the Flora, Fauna and Geological Makeup

Investigate the cave before actually climbing down into it. Find out if it is mainly made up of granite or gypsum, lava or simply hard-packed dirt. Know what kind of plants to expect and also what animals are native to the area. Snakes, lizards and scorpions may be a problem at the entrance to a cave, but not deeper down. Prepare yourself accordingly and bring along any gear you believe necessary for dealing with a rattler or scorpion sting.

Travel in a Group

Attempt desert spelunking only as part of a group, not alone; this doubles your chances of survival in case of an accident. This is especially true if you find yourself in the desert environs without sufficient water. A second party can share her water and provisions with you, ensuring that you both get to safety.

Pack a Desert Cave Survival Kit

Bring along the items you anticipate needing in the desert cave. A coverall with copious pockets may be easier than lugging around a backpack. Bring kneepads, gloves, boots, a hardhat, and also two light sources with ample replacement batteries. Desert caving safety depends in part on having sufficient light to orient yourself, particularly if there is a shifting in sand and you need to dig your way out of the cave. Bring along a shovel for digging, and also food and water. Carry at least one first aid kit per party of spelunkers, and some spray paint for making crossroads.

Look Back Frequently

Turn around frequently and memorize what the cave looks like on the way back. Desert caves are notorious for being somewhat drab and devoid of markers, and it is a good idea to get a feel for even the most minute markers that will tell you if you are on the right track when you want to get back out.


Article Written By Sylvia Cochran

Based in the Los Angeles area, Sylvia Cochran is a seasoned freelance writer focusing on home and garden, travel and parenting articles. Her work has appeared in "Families Online Magazine" and assorted print and Internet publications.

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