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How can there be rules in a hobby that is often centered around breaking them? I think a lot of rules are meant to be broken, or at least challenged.
There are some basic principals you’ll want to follow while urban exploring in order to preserve the hobby, and be welcomed into the community. We’ll call them urbex rules.
You’ll notice I don’t put any safety tips in here. I feel those are separate, and are heavily based on your level of experience and risk tolerance.
Here are 3 urbex rules I personally follow, and would suggest all explorers follow.
Be Extremely Accountable
It’s no secret that this can be a very dangerous hobby. You need to take full responsibility for your actions and safety.
If you fall through a floor and get injured, that’s on you. If you forgot a mask and are having trouble breathing, that’s on you. If you get caught trespassing, that’s also on you.
By being extremely accountable for your actions you give yourself a lot of control in balancing risk in dangerous situations. You may be breaking the law, you need to be fully ready and willing to accept the consequences that comes with that.
You could suffer a serious injury while isolated or on a vacant property. It is your job to treat your injury and get yourself to safety. Do not sue the property owners, or fully rely on someone else for your personal well being.
If you follow this urbex rule you will generally have a much better time while exploring. People will look up to you as someone who is prepared and knowledgeable, which are two important skills to have in the community.
Leave No Trace
We all explore of different reasons, but the vast majority of us are there to photograph or experience the natural decay of a place. I know I personally love finding old calendars that are still up from the 1980s, or stumbling across antiques that have long been forgotten.
Try to leave little to no impact on your surroundings, so others can have the same experience you did. Don’t mindlessly break things, and don’t tactlessly graffiti places that have a lot of history, or are well preserved.
The places isn’t yours, and you’re only opening yourself up to potentially more legal problems if caught.
Sure, sometimes a spray painted mural makes that abandoned factory more interesting. But knowing where this rule applies is really something that requires some judgement on your part.
I think we can all agree that an old decaying church is a lot more fun to explore than one that has been plastered in graffiti from a middle schooler.
A great quote I strongly agree with I think sums this rule up well..
Take nothing that will be missed, leave nothing that will be noticed.
This rule also applies to those who create their own ways in.
There are the pathmakers and the pathtakers. If you are pathmaker it’s up to you to reseal the entrance you created. If not, you leave the building vulnerable others who may destroy what’s inside.
Following this rule shows that you respect not only the property, but also other members of the urbex community.
Keep Locations Private
This is a big urbex rule. With the rising popularity of urban exploring, historical and preserved places are now more vulnerable to vandalism and arson than ever before.
Carelessly sharing locations, especially online or to strangers increases the likelihood that the place will get completely gutted, or burned down. Not only is a piece of history lost, but now no one can explore it.
I remember when a set of abandoned passenger train cars were relatively unknown. Soon their location was leaked online and a few months later they were covered completely in graffiti. This destroyed the natural beauty of the trains. Luckily I was able to see them before this happened, but it’s still ruined the experience for anyone else.
When a location is posted online more people tend to get injured, or caught by police there. This puts the property owner or city on notice to increase security and police presence. All of this publicity makes it harder to actually explore, photograph, and enjoy.
What If I Break The Urbex Rules?
Frankly, only real dickheads purposely and continuously break these rules. The exploration community isn’t that large, and people who don’t abide by a solid code of ethics get outed pretty quickly.
I don’t condone it, but I’ve heard of other explorers finding these types of people and jumping them when their exploring alone. I’ve also seen explorers call the police on people who are out destroying things, and generally being toxic.
Everyone has a different take on ethics when it comes to exploring, but I think these three urbex rules are pretty much universally agreed upon in the exploring community.
What do you think about when it comes to urbex rules? Let us know in the comments below.