Local cave explorer offers safety tips - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Local cave explorer offers safety tips

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ST. CLAIR, CO. -- With there being hundreds of caves in the area, local cave explorers offer safety tips for cavers to keep in mind.

Illinois is home to hundreds of caves and Missouri is home to more than 7,000 caves. With the world keeping a close eye on the cave rescue mission in Thailand, cave explorers stress safety around the region.

Cave explorer Dan Lamping, who also serves as the president of the Missouri Speleological Survey, took News 3's Hannah Gebresilassie and Photographer Andy Shofstall inside a cave in the Illinois Nature Preserve. He showed News 3 first-hand some of the dangers that could arise if cavers don't prepare properly. 

"Here's an example of the debris that can be seen on the ceiling in this cave which is an indicator that the cave does flood up to the ceiling in the event of heavy rains, water would completely inundate this," Lamping said, just like it did with the situation in Thailand where a soccer team and their coach got trapped in a flooded cave.

Rescue efforts continue in Thailand for four boys and their football coach after eight boys were rescued.

"They can be hazardous and rescue operations can at times happen within them," Lamping said. "It's a good time for fire departments and first responders to evaluate their level of familiarity and preparedness."

He said the caving community is available as a resource to help in the event of an emergency and encourages cavers to do their part in staying safe.

"A quick trip to satisfy one's curiosity can become problematic very quickly," Lamping said.

Lamping said it's important to check the weather, know the cave and always be aware. He also encourages cavers to do simple things, like wearing gloves.

"To keep from getting your hands cut," he said.

It's encouraged to make sure you have a helmet with a light mounted on it, have three sources of light and always travel in groups of four.

For Lamping, caving is more than a hobby, it's a lifestyle.

"I could document these types of places and in many cases go where other people hadn't been before and it became very addicting," Lamping said. "We cave to satisfy curiosity."

And he hopes folks around the region can continue to explore caves, all while staying safe.

"Building those relationships and friendships and having those shared experiences," Lamping said.

If you're interested in learning more about safe caving and to find local grottos (cave clubs), Lamping encourages you to get involved with organizations like the National Speleological Society.

To coordinate cave rescue training for fire departments and first responders, visit here.

To contact speleologists directly working in caves or to report a cave in Illinois, visit here.

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