Safetyheader MSM Spelunkers Home
Compiled by Rob Tayloe

Caving safely requires that a person's knowledge, equipment(see vendor's list from the links page), and capabilities are prepared for the underground environment, where any unexpected situation can arise. This statement is not meant to raise fear or alarm, but to express caution. A few items will be discussed that are necessities, whereas a few others are only for suggestion. Above all though, when underground, you must respect your environment. In other words: "leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time". Your actions, all of them, will have an effect on this sensitive environment, where you are an intruder. So please appreciate, respect, and admire the cave system when traversing through it.

Also, always keep in mind that caving is an inherently dangerous activity. Many people, both experienced and not, are injured and killed by participating in this activity. However, by being mentally & physically prepared, and by having the proper equipment & knowing how to use it, the chances of injury or death are decreased. There, wasn't that an uplifting thought? Well, take it seriously...


  1. Spelunking-type helmet (preferably with a nonelastic and quick-release chinstrap) with a light bracket attached;
  2. A light (carbide or electric) capable of being mounted;
  3. Two (at least) other sources of light;
  4. Sturdy, rubber soled, lace-up boots; ankle high for support;
  5. Warm (even if wet) clothing:
    1. wool or polyprop next to skin:
    2. outer layer of wool or denim;
    3. plan clothing layers for a wet and muddy environment with temps in the 50's;
  6. Quick energy-type foods and drinking water; and
  7. At least one basic first-aid kit per group, (instant heat source & water purification tablets).


  1. Gloves, knee pads, and elbow pads;
  2. At least one whistle per group;
  3. At least one 30 foot length of caving quality rope per group;
  4. A change of clothes for the ride home; and
  5. Plastic trash bag (30-gallon size and heavy duty, +2 mil).


  1. Never go alone, three to four are absolute minimum;
  2. Do not attempt passages beyond your abilities (you'll have nothing to prove if you're buried there or in a cemetery);
  3. Leave word with someone about your location and expected time of return;
  4. Always respect the limitations of yourself and of your gear;
  5. Receive permission to enter the cave;
  6. Be aware of any impending rain showers or other severe weather changes that may affect the cave or the trip home;
  7. Never stop learning;
  8. Never disturb any cave formations or wildlife;
  9. Never go caving under the influence of any drug;
  10. Always look around, especially back the way you came;
  11. Think of the consequences of an injury as you go through;
  12. Never leave any marks (arrows, etc.) or graffiti of any kind;
  13. Never assume that the cave is "rock solid";
  14. Remove all non-native (human) debris, trash, etc.
  15. Keep food crumbs to a minimum; and
  16. Always keep in mind that the unexpected can happen, anytime.