Safety & Conservation
Caving is great fun but caves also demand respect. Below are some guidelines for how to behave to keep you safe and make sure the caves stay as pristine as possible for several more million years. Have fun but be safe and don't trash things!
For every caving trip a callout should be left with an experienced member of the club (who is not caving and is contactable by phone all day) in case there is a problem underground and cave rescue are needed. When setting a callout it is important to include the following information:
- The cave to be visited and the planned route through the cave, the more specific the better.
- The people in the team and any plans of splitting into smaller groups
- Car details, including registration number, colour, make and where it is parked
- Callout time, ie the time that cave rescue will be called.
It is important that the person who is callout is informed of any changes made to the original plan, e.g. if a different cave is done, if a different route is planned or the team changes for any reason.
The person who is callout should be contractible by phone all day and should set alarm(s) to avoid any chance of forgetting the callout. Obviously whoever's callout should't drink either! A bit before the callout time is reached the person who is callout should try and contact the team in case they have forgotten to cancel it. A few minutes before the callout time is reached, the medical details of the team should be taken from the website (only availible in the admin section which can be accessed by any committee member).
To call cave rescue, dial 999. Ask for the Police and then for cave rescue, remembering to say which area. They will usually take a contact number and the rescue controller will call back to take further details. Under no circumstances should a team be given "another few minutes" after the designated callout time.
It is also important to contact the club president in the event of a callout once cave rescue have been informed as it may be necessary to let the University know. This information is also on the 'My Profile' page at the bottom right.
- It is important not to touch any formations in caves. This not only includes the obvious calcite formations (straws, stalagmites, stalactites, curtains etc.) but also mud formations.
- Some areas in caves will be taped off to raise awareness and protect formations in the area. It is important that this tape is not crossed, even if it means getting wet/muddy to stay on the right side!
- Remember that a helmet makes you taller! Lots of formations can be found on the ceiling, so always try and be aware of how close you are. If in doubt, crawl!
- Always take everything out of the cave with you: no one likes to see litter in caves, so make sure nothing is left behind. If you see rubbish that someone else has left it's a good idea just to pick it up and take it out with you. In addition, don't leave graffiti behind either.
- Bats are protected species and can be found in many of the caves we visit. If you do see any, try to avoid shining your light directly at them and try not to disturb them at all. It is also illegal to take flash photography of bats.
- If you need the loo, go somewhere where there's running water…preferably not anywhere you're about to go downstream of!
General Caving Practice
- When you're underground, always keep an eye on the person behind you: if they stop for any reason then you'll realise, and if everyone's doing the same then the whole group will stop if the person at the back has a problem.
- Only one person should be on any section of rope at any one time. When you move on to the next rope and are clear from the last one, shout "rope free" to the person following you and wait for a response before carrying on.
- If you ever knock any loose rock or drop anything down a pitch, always shout "below" (loudly!) so that anyone below you will realise that something may fall. Even if you don't think there's anyone below you it's better to be safe than sorry! Obviously, if you hear a shout of below then don't look up!!
- Always make sure you stand well away from pitches when you're waiting for others to minimise the chance of you knocking anything down or of things being knocked down on to you.
- If you have any medical conditions (e.g. asthma, diabetes etc.) that could affect you when you're caving, let someone else on the trip know so that they are aware if you have any problems.
- If you have any sort of problem during a trip, it's really important to let someone know rather than carrying on. That could be anything from being too cold, having hurt yourself, being unhappy with the callout, being unhappy with someone else's conduct etc. It's better to let someone know about something that turns out to be irrelevant than to not mention something that turns out to be a problem.
- If you have any problems with any club gear during a trip, it's important that you let the tackle masters know: when you get back to the container, put the gear in the blue box marked 'For tackle masters' attention' and note down the problem in the blue book.
Other Bits & Pieces
- Medical information: on the 'My Profile' section of the website there is a box where you can type in medical information. The information will only be accessed in the event of a callout, so that Cave Rescue can be informed but it's really important that you do upload anything that could be relevant (e.g. allergy to penicillin, asthma, any heart conditions etc.).
- Weils disease: if you're ill after a caving trip and go to the doctor's, mention that you've been caving. Although it's extremely rare, it is possible to catch Weils disease in caves as it can be present in rats' urine etc. In the unlikely event that you are diagnosed with it, let (at least) the other people who were in your group know.
- Insurance: new members are covered in the first term by our club insurance, but for subsequent calendar years all members get individual BCA insurance. To make life easier for us when we're arranging it, please can you make sure that your address is up to date on 'My Profile' section of the website. If you're a student it's best if you put down your home address rather than your term time address in case you move house over the summer.
- York Sport membership: being a sports club, all club members also need to be members of York Sport to go on trips. If you're not already a member then you can get it online at www.yusu.org: click on York Sport, then on membership. If you're not a student then speak to the president/membership secretary and they'll arrange membership for you.
One final thing is that if you have any problems or concerns at all regarding the club then just speak to a committee member and let them know. The committee is there to keep things running smoothly, so they're there to sort things out for you!