One of the appeals of urban exploring is the inherent dangers that are associated with it. Whether it be finding the site, dodging the authorities or negotiating obstacles, be sure to do some research and be wary of what you might find in each location.
Finding/Entering a site
Finding an appropriate site to visit is the most important thing to do when starting out. Ultimately you will want a location which is easy to get to, devoid of prying eyes from authorities and is easy to access. Many abandoned buildings are in the process of being demolished and will have fences erected to stop people from gaining access. Attempting to climb these fences is extremely risky as they are usually covered in barbed wire.
Spending hours researching locations and traveling to a place, only to find it is impossible to gain access will be a frustrating experience. It is possible to gain permission to a building if you can find the demolition contractors or owners of the site. This takes some of the edge off the experience but can guarantee you a safe passage in to a building.
Derelict building by their very nature are unsafe. Some will have asbestos inside them, others may have dangerous chemicals or items. Others may be undergoing demolition and will be unsafe to go in. Doing the research, often phoning the company who own the building, can minimize the risk of exploring an otherwise dangerous structure.
Broken glass, nails etc
Wearing your brand new trainers will ensure that your feet eventually get torn up by the amount of debris scattered on the ground. Glass is no commodity in derelict buildings and it is surprising where it can make its way to. Glass not only will shred up your new pair of shoes but also makes surfaces difficult to grip on to.
Nails can be present throughout abandoned buildings, hidden in debris and planks of wood. It is easy to rush and climb on some rubble without thinking and end up stepping on a nail. I’ve had to constantly remind myself not to rush and be patient whilst exploring an area, even if that means being in sight of contractors or demolition people.
Be wary of authorities
Trespass, as it turns out is illegal. Funnily enough it wasn’t something that I really thought about until I heard of others who had been caught and alerted me to it. Somewhat embarrassing for a law graduate…
Who you have to watch out for depends on the type of building and location. Some buildings are currently in the process of being demolished and will be full of people. Others may be entirely abandoned, however members of the public may phone if they see suspicious people climbing buildings. Whatever the scenario, make sure you understand the consequences of trespass.
When urban exploring in Berlin I frequently came across people squatting inside buildings. There can be horror stories about ‘drug takers’ or other dangerous people who reside there. In my experience I never encountered this, in fact the people that I met were really friendly. But in case they aren’t, be sure to be cautious.