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How to Explore an Abandoned Building

Updated on June 19, 2013
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You know you've seen them, that abandoned and slightly decayed building. Admit it. It made you curious.

Abandoned buildings are everywhere and they can be quite fascinating. There are many different types of abandoned buildings. There are houses, hospitals, resorts, industrial sites and much more. These abandoned buildings tend to hold a certain mystery in their derelict state. Why are they empty? Why were they left to rot? What type of people resided there? Why did they leave? What’s in there now? What is going to happen to the building? Abandoned buildings bring up more questions than answers.

How do we answer these questions? Well, we explore it of course! Trendy hipsters call exploring abandoned buildings Urban Exploring. Either way it’s all the same thing. In order to explore an abandoned building you will need:

· Sturdy, comfortable shoes

· A flashlight

· Disposable dust mask

· Bottled Water

· Cell phone

· A backpack (to hold flashlight, bottle water and cell phone)

Please keep in mind that exploring an abandoned building can be very dangerous as some of the buildings are not structurally sound. Never explore alone. It’s kind of like that golden rule of scuba diving. It’s best to go in with a partner. I’ve heard horror stories of fellow explorers falling through floors and falling down collapsing stairs. If this were to happen to you while exploring alone odds are good that you will be eaten by the inhabitants of the building (usually nasty rats, rabid raccoons and maybe a homeless person). Ok, that might be a bit farfetched, but you get the idea. You fall through a floor and no one is there to help you bad things can happen. Always use good judgment!

Also, keep in mind that if the building is posted as no trespassing you should gain permission before exploring. Here is a wonderful little example of exploring without permission: my explorer partner and I found a wonderful old, abandoned farmhouse that was very picturesque. It was plastered with no trespassing signs. We couldn’t resist, we had to explore it. Besides, there were no other houses around, so who would know if we went in? Bad assumption. We’re exploring the house for a good fifteen minutes when an old lady (pushing 90, I’m not even kidding) rolled up in an old SUV and pulled a gun on us. Needless to say we left with pissy pants and a very expensive citation.


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Duh. We know burglary is bad.

I digress, so back to tips on exploring. When entering an abandoned building it’s best to go through an open door. You should never break a door down or break open a window to gain entry. Gaining entry that way can be viewed as burglary. Always be mindful of the laws in the area of where you are exploring. Criminal trespassing and burglary can look bad on a record when trying to find a job.

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What's on the inside?

Once inside the abandoned building it is good practice to make sure your dust mask is on your face because you do not know what might be floating around in the murky air. It could be anything from asbestos particles to black mold. These masks just may save you from mesothelioma. Don’t laugh, you never know. Also, always have your working flashlight in hand. Abandoned buildings tend to be very dark and visibility is key. I once almost fell down an elevator shaft because the batteries died in my flashlight at an inopportune time. Thank goodness for my exploring partner, his flashlight was in proper working condition. See where that exploring partner becomes important?

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Things left behind...

While exploring the inside of an abandoned building it’s very important to watch where you walk. Floors can be compromised and often there is debris that one can trip over. Now that you will be watching out for the dangers of exploring abandoned buildings (rabid animals, decayed flooring, pain in the ass security and angry homeless people), don’t forget to look out for the cool things. It’s amazing at what is left behind. For instance, I’ve been in some house where it looked like the people just up and left. They didn’t bother to take any of their belongings. It is interesting to see the different states of decay. On the other spectrum sometimes you will find a place that has been completely wiped out. The empty buildings aren’t near as much fun to explore. Anyway, keep an eye out for things that were left behind. Types of furniture and paper work can offer much information. Those items can give you a good idea of what the building once was and they type of people that once lived or worked there. Some explorers take cameras and shoot pictures of the interesting spots that they find. It can be a good way to document history. Some explorers will Google the building before they explore it so they have a good idea of the history of the place. Some places though, just can’t be researched on Google.

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Old architecture is always the best.

I always enjoy viewing the old architecture of an abandoned building. The lines of some buildings can be the most beautiful thing ever. This is why I like to have a camera with when exploring. I love to capture the architecture and the beauty in the decay. One thing is for sure, they don’t make great buildings like they used to. Future explorers will be exploring boring prefab buildings with not much character. Plus, with the wonderful world of technology there will be no fun paperwork to nose through. Future explorers are going to have it rough.

Unfortunately, with many old buildings they are left to rot for so long that nothing can be done to save them. We have lost many historic buildings this way. I’m always happy to see when one has been refurbished and not razed to make room for a lame parking lot. You will find that this happens a lot in this hobby. One minute a building you explored is there and then the next minute it’s gone. This is why many explorers take cameras with them, to document the building. Sometimes when they’re destroyed it’s like losing an old friend.

I hope some of these tips have helped fledgling explorers. Happy exploring people!

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    • That Grrl profile image

      Laura Brown 

      4 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

      Not a bad idea to bring along a cane or something like that too. You can test suspicious looking flooring and scoop things out of your way too.

    • BigSerious profile image

      Christen Roberts Comer 

      5 years ago from Harrisburg, PA

      Great first hub, Wendisimo! I can't wait to read more! (Your photography is excellent).

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