Caving Safely

Caving: "Coming back alive!"

Enjoying a Caving Trip

The following is information about caves and caving. Some of the information will tell you about required caving gear that everyone must have. No exceptions. Most of this information you will find useful to make your trip underground more enjoyable.

A word of caution...Caving can be a dangerous sport. The total and unremitting absence of light is a constant source of danger to those who explore the subterranean world. The temperature of many caves can cause hypothermia unless proper precautions are taken. The mud and the humid atmosphere create slippery conditions underground and normal aboveground climbing techniques are not sufficient to insure a reasonable margin of safety in cave exploration. Virgin or infrequently visited caves almost invariably present problems of unstable rock and treacherous hand and footholds. Reasonable safety in caving can only be achieved through a combination of proper attitude, good equipment, and training from those already well-versed in the specialized techniques of cave exploration.

Let's talk about bats. Bats are very friendly. Bats are mammals. Contrary to popular belief, bats are not blind. Bats do not get tangled up in your hair. Bats seldom transmit disease to other animals or humans. All mammals can contract rabies; however, even the less than a half of 1% of bats that do contract the disease, normally bite only in self-defense and pose little threat to people who do not handle them. Leave bats alone.

A single little brown bat can catch 600 mosquitoes in just one hour! A colony of 150 big brown bats can protect local farmers from up to 18 million or more rootworms each summer. In the wild, important agricultural plants, from bananas, breadfruit, and mangoes to cashews, dates, and figs rely on bats for pollination and seed dispersal. Bat droppings in caves support whole ecosystems of unique organisms, including bacteria useful in detoxifying wastes, improving detergents, and producing gasohol and antibiotics. An anticoagulant from vampire bat saliva may soon be used to treat human heart patients.

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