cave safe

Here are some great basic guidelines for safe and sustainable caving:


  • Never touch or break formations. Touching or breaking them can DESTROY THEM FOREVER! – and it’s against the law!
  • Do not smoke, or use tobacco in caves - it can harm delicate creatures, and goes against "leave no trace".
  • Never permanently mark your trail. If you need to, use recoverable markers, and take them as you leave.
  • Spraypainting in a cave is vandalism, and can be prosecuted by law.
  • Maintain 3 points of contact. This means having 3 of your 4 limbs supporting you at all times, only moving with the 4th limb.
  • Stop to take a look around. Don't try to look around while you're moving!
  • Never leave trash or human waste in or near a cave.
  • Always tell someone where you’re going, and when to expect you back.
  • Give your contact specific details: other persons to try contacting before they panic, the name of the cave, state, and county. Give a drop-dead time out with enough leeway for the unexpected (like: do cell phones work in the area?)
  • Have your contact call 911 if they don’t hear from you or someone else on the trip by the agreed upon time.
  • Carry 3 sources of light. They should ALL be helmet mountable. A handheld light is not much use in a full-contact cave environment!
  • Dress appropriately - use synthetic fabrics instead of cotton. Most Southeastern US caves hover around 56F year round, and you will usually get wet to some extent. Bringing an extra layer is a good plan.
  • Carry some food and water. Especially if you have special dietary needs.
  • RESPECT LANDOWNERS!!! Without good relations with the people who own caves, we aren’t going caving. Be as nice as you possibly can. Ask where to park. Don’t block roads or gates. Leave gates as you find them. Pick up trash every chance you get. Be willing to WALK, not drive across fields or roads that may upset someone.
  • Be discreet – don’t yell, litter, or make lots of noise and always change clothes where you cannot be seen by anyone.
  • Don’t get in over your head. Remember that caves are ALWAYS DIFFICULT RESCUE SITUATIONS.
  • Don’t take unnecessary risks. If you don’t feel comfortable in any situation – turn around. If you are getting cold, time to go.
  • Always cave with 3 or more people, but less than 10 when possible. A minimum of 3 will allow someone to go for help. Too many people can anger landowners and puts too much stress on the caves at once. A group of 4-6 is a great target.
  • Avoid publishing cave information on social media and unsecured websites. There is a price for over-popularization of caves. The price for over-visitation is vandalism and closure.

An Excellent guide to responsible caving from the NSS can be found here

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