Saturday, November 28, 2009
Recently a 26-year-old medical student died while participating in a recreational pursuit called "caving." Caving involves the practice of investigating and exploring caves. John Jones, the aforementioned medical student, is reported to have died earlier this week when his body became cramped in an underground chute where he became stuck with his head at an angle below his feet.
Rescurers came to the scene but were unable to free Jones' body. Officials have determined that the cave called "Nutty Putty" located in Utah is unsafe and have decided to close the cave permanently without removing Jones' body.
In researching this topic I came across a list of safety practices one should consider when caving. The list is not meant to replace using common sense and additional reading is recommended. The list of 15 safety practices is provided for your consideration, including, but not limited to, the following:
1. Always go caving with other people (never alone);
2. Wear a good-quality hardhat with a chinstrap and primary light source attached.
3. Carry three sources of light;
4. Always leave information with someone about where you are going and your expected time of return, allowing several hours for unexpected delays;
5. Follow the lead of the more experienced caver or someone who knows the cave well;
6. If all lights fail, sit down and wait for help to come;
7. Avoid jumping, since cave floors are seldom level and even a short jump may result in injury;
8. Practice rope work (vertical caving) under the guidance of an expert before doing any vertical caving;
9. Caving can be extremely tiring; know your physical limits and watch for fatigue in others;
10. Never go caving if in ill health or if you have a chronic disorder such as heart disease or epilepsy;
11. Carry a small first aid kit and a large trash bag to make a heat tent using the heat from a candle or carbide lamp;
12. If an immobilizing injury occurs, treat for shock (keep the injured person warm) and contact the local cave rescue organization or the State Police;
13. Sitting still can cause shivering after a period of time (the first symptom of hypothermia); get moving and initiate activity;
14. The slowest caver sets the pace; the leader should go only as fast as others can follow; and
15. If lost in a cave, panic is the worst enemy. Remain calm, conserve your light, and if you followed the rule about leaving word, you have little to worry about.
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Alan L. Morton
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