Urban exploration, also known as urbex tourism or “urbexing,” refers to the exploration of derelict urban structures. This can mean going to unkempt buildings, underground railways, old sewers, and even roofs of skyscrapers. Some do this because of curiosity, while others for the thrill of the unknown. There are also some whose intention is to capture, document, and share with the world the beauty behind the gradual process of old man-made structures’ decay through photographs.
But then, many things can go wrong when urbexing, and if you are not careful, you may end up getting seriously hurt or even face legal charges. These are but some perils associated with urbex tourism:
The Risk of Getting Electrocuted
Since we are talking about abandoned buildings, there is a great chance that no one is trying to keep the place safe. Buildings deteriorate faster when no one is trying to maintain the place. Structural damage will occur as well as other issues, which makes the place a dangerous site to visit.
For one, old and abandoned man-made structures have old wiring and electrics. These don’t undergo electrical inspections. This means that the building doesn’t have electrical installation condition reports (EICRs), proving the electrical safety of the place.
You can get electrocuted even in abandoned buildings. Note that some abandoned buildings have electricity. Some maintain a connection to the grid to keep the lights on after dark to try to scare away people squatting in the area.
Falling Through Unstable Structures
Since the buildings are already decaying, there is a huge chance that some floors now have holes and that some parts of the structure are no longer stable. You may think that you have a good eye from unstable grounds. But in reality, many people thought the same but still got injured and fell to their death.
Some urban explorers are into rooftopping. They are not only entering old structures and exploring each room. They also aim to go to the top level of the building such as the ascent of roofs, antennas, cranes, and just for the sake of taking a cool photo.
You may have heard about the news way back in 2017, when a Chinese daredevil went up the Huayuan International Centre in China and died after hitting the terrace below a ledge. Many others already died from rooftopping, but still many are attempting to pull off the stunt. Just imagine if you are to do this on a rickety old structure.
Even if you don’t fall from a hole or the structure you step on is stable, there is still a chance of the ceiling or the structure above you can fall on you. The last thing you want is to get hurt and trapped in some building with no one else who can help.
Exposure to Harmful Chemicals
Just because you are not exploring old factories where harmful chemicals are stored or does not mean you are safe from chemical exposure. Old buildings can have asbestos, lead paint, and carbon monoxide. Exposure to these harmful chemicals can make you ill or even cause death.
It is never easy to check if a building was built and designed with asbestos-containing materials or painted with lead paint, or if there is a carbon monoxide leak. Many abandoned properties are left untouched, which means that your next site could be filled with dangerous chemicals that can have detrimental effects on your health.
Risk of Infection
Unoccupied buildings are often victims of animal and pests infestation. Think of roaches, rats, birds, wild animals, and even snakes. These can turn the building into their home after squeezing in small holes, open windows, and other structural defects.
One can never be too careful about what animals or pests they can encounter while exploring abandoned buildings. You can get hurt by a wild dog, slip on animal urine or droppings, or get bitten by a snake. Remember that the urine, droppings, hair, saliva, and the like of animals and pests can put you at risk of developing an infection.
Don’t forget about toxic mold and mildew. You may not be staying for long in an old site. But these can cause your allergies to flare up.
Crossing Paths with the Wrong People
One can never tell if an abandoned building is occupied or not. You may have done your research on the place. But that does not mean you can’t find squatters, criminals, or even junkies from making a home out of unoccupied places. You can even get caught by the people in charge of the place and face fines and lawsuits.
These kinds of people can react differently. Some will ignore you, while others may have other plans such as to rob or hurt you. Some will be indifferent but will also not help you in case you get into trouble while exploring.
Urbex tourism can be fun and exciting, but it can also be quite dangerous. Your concern should not only focus on the deteriorating building itself but what lies inside after dark. Remember that your safety matters more than the memories you can create and the photos you can capture when out on an urbexing adventure.