The 7 Dangers of Urban Exploration: A Safety Guide

We love exploring. It is part of human nature to go and see what the world outside has to offer. Even the people that love their homes love to see new things, just on TV. When you start urban exploring, you will quickly learn that there are dangers inherent in the hobby that make new experiences so much harder to control.

There are 7 dangers that you should look out for when urban exploring, from criminals looking for an opportunity to the environment falling on you. Urban exploration is one of the most rewarding types of exploration, but it can be dangerous to do it even in the safest city on earth.

Getting to know what dangers you will be facing on the outside are, is the best way to stay safe throughout your exploration journey. There are seven things you should know about urban exploring, all things that you can either learn the hard way or just take a few minutes to read up on each of them.

Here are the dangers of urban exploring, the ones you may know, and the ones you never thought could be a danger!

The danger of criminals

Just like you like to go and see what things are forgotten in the outside world, there are criminals that see abandoned places as the perfect locations for wrongdoing. The pettiest criminals will be exploring a place to see what they may be able to take, while others do a lot more damage.

Either way, it doesn’t matter what type of criminal you are encountering; the danger of them being armed will always be there. Staying away from a location you know may have some kind of criminal activity will always be the go-to advice that other explorers recommend.

If you encounter active criminal dealings, it’s better to call the police and have them check out an area that it is to brave going somewhere no one will ever be able to find you.

The confusion of another explorer

Many times you won’t be alone while exploring. You may have a friend going with you or, at the worst of time, halfway through exploring, another explorer will show up. Many times this may not be the best of meetings, as some urban explorers are prone to be mistrustful or out to do something less than savory and can lead to problems.

Many urban explorers will try to stay out of your way or simply leave a location where they see someone else currently moving. However, there are a few bad seeds in the bunch that will be dangerous to deal with, going out of their way to cause problems for you.

In the rarest of cases, some urban explorers will get mad at you for doing the same as them. This can lead to them calling the police or even trying to harm you while you are busy exploring.

Being rude to authorities

People will inevitably call the police when they see you exploring an area that is off-limits or abandoned. However, the way you treat the authorities that show up will significantly affect how much urban exploring you can do in the future.

Many urban explorers are afraid in the beginning, thinking they must run away from authorities or try to hide. In some cases, especially seedier neighborhoods, this may very well be your only course of action. But, it should always be remembered that you can talk to the police to gain access or just be quietly removed from a building.

Some of the most dangerous situations take place when young, inexperienced urban explorers want to argue with authorities. It is always better to get a slap on the wrist for trespassing in an abandoned building and exploring another day than it is to be arrested and fined several thousands of dollars.

Feel free to check out our article on “6 Ways to Get Arrested While Urban Exploring.

Unhappy landowners

Sometimes places we explore are abandoned, left to be blown away by winds and rain; other times, something else happens. People are not always willing to leave large buildings to die. Sometimes, buildings are only left to be empty for a few years before new renovations start up again.

In these cases, landowners will not be thrilled by urban explorers showing up and potentially causing damage to property. While that may not be your aim, when you open a door and window, forgetting to close it afterward, you open a place to nature.

This can cause many long-term damages and other problems that landowners will be extremely angry about. This is why some locations are viewed as legendary, where either the landowner or a security company has made it almost impossible to enter a place. Nothing says thrilling like running away from a landowner wielding a stick; however, please do be careful, sometimes landowners can be more dangerous than criminals.

The problem of wild animals

We like to forget that while we have tamed nature in many areas, it will always be working to reclaim places we have left. This can be seen by shrubs and trees growing in impossible places, creating a unique look of nature growing through concrete.

Extending beyond plants, the danger of urban exploring in many areas is not the building falling or people catching you. Many wild animals that are not friendly may have taken residence inside an abandoned building, a place that is out of the weather and away from predators.

Birds are usually the first to move in, but larger animals can move in over time. Nothing says awake like realizing that a mountain lion or a cougar has chosen the abandoned building you are now in to raise their cubs.

Illegal entry into frightening places

Sometimes we forget why places have been abandoned. We like to think that it’s as simple as an owner that ran out of money; however, this is not always the case. There are many reasons a place may be abandoned, and while we all like scary stories of asylums just becoming abandoned because of their bad histories, there are many places that are not like that at all.

Places like old mills or power plants are rarely abandoned because they ran out of money or because of bad histories. Most of the time, industries died, or newer buildings became available, with owners choosing not to continue working on at certain locations.

Once a power plant becomes abandoned, it can be one of the most inviting places to visit as an urban explorer, with many scary and large buildings on offer. However, it is not at all safe, and many times authorities will be madder at you for putting your own life at risk while exploring these locations.

Sometimes mills can have abandoned storage compartments as well, making the risk to your life not at all worth the experience of exploring the world around you.

Dangerous environments

As much as we all like exploring and seeing the abandoned places in the world, even in the middle of the city, some places should be left alone. Some areas of land should be left alone at all times, with many urban explorers making it clear to others that guides or more experienced explorers should lead the way.

The perfect example of this has been the Paris catacombs, a bucket list item on any urban explorer’s list. However, because of their danger, it is required that you meet up with other explorers that have been to the catacombs several times before to navigate safely.

Getting lost or attacked in abandoned or forgotten places means that many times you will follow the same fate as these places.

How urban exploration can be dangerous?

There are several factors that should be considered when evaluating how dangerous a location can be, with each one having different levels of importance, depending on where you are. Cities will have more criminal activity while the suburbs might be more open to hidden pitfalls. Even more dangerous can be the wildlife that appears in rural or small towns, sometimes being so violent that there is almost no escape.

  • The location: Where you are exploring is one of the most important things to consider when planning a trip. If you are in the confines of a city, having proper and easy ways of communication may be more important than letting someone know where you are going. While more rural areas having someone know exactly where you are can be more important; getting to the location can be more of a journey than the place itself.
  • Dereliction: Something few new explorers consider is the current state of repair a building will be in. With many locations looking perfectly fine for urban exploring from the outside, while the inside is in such a state of disrepair that even opening a door is a risky move. Knowing in what condition a building is in will determine how long you should be inside and what safety equipment apart from just a mask and gloves you should take with you.
  • Getting Lost: No true urban explorer should ever be lost; you should know how to get out of a place once you have entered. If you are entering larger maze-like buildings having a map or way to trace your steps back will be vital. Many times you can request the maps for a building from a local library; just be sure to have it all saved before going in.
  • Secrets: Abandoned places are amazing because of the secret histories they tell; however, this can also pose a large problem. If you see something that should not be seen, sometimes hidden stashes of drugs or unwelcome plants, then you should be ready to go to the authorities. Getting into some trouble for exploring unknown locations is a lot better than bearing witness to illegal activities and then being implicated down the line.
  • Abandoned: One of the scariest and most heart-stopping moments, while urban exploring will be learning that the place you thought was abandoned is actually playing home to something. Most of the time, it will be a lot of wild animals; however, there are rare occasions where people, either the homeless or the desperate, have taken up residence in abandoned locations. Being sure a place is abandoned will save you several heart attacks along the way.
  • Sudden weather: Places worth visiting are also places that have been left to the whims of the world for a long time. Sometimes in larger locations, you can easily find many areas untouched by anyone else. However, most of the time, you will see that rain and wind have been causing unchecked damage. In these instances, you need to be sure that the weather is safe and that no storms will suddenly kick up; being stuck in a crumbling building is dangerous, being stuck in one that is flooding is death-defying.
  • Unplanned dangers: As much as we all plan our outings, take ropes, harnesses, and extra water with. You can never be prepared for sudden dangers. Sometimes it can be gasses, fires, or even just someone else being there. Keeping a cool and level head in these situations will mean the difference between life or death.

Planning ahead when urban exploring

The only real way of ever overcoming any danger of urban exploring will be to plan well ahead of your trip. Getting ready with the right tools and knowing the location thoroughly is the best way to prevent any kind of danger befalling you. Many times all you need to do to not be in danger is follow a few simple steps.

  • Scout the location: A few days before you go to the location you want to explore, simply going to check that everything is okay and safe will help. Knowing the lay of the outside land will mean you can safely enter without being caught in some kind of dangerous situation.
  • Create a group: Until you are well experienced and comfortable going somewhere alone, you should always travel in some kind of group. Being a group of two to four will mean some safety in numbers; it also means someone can help if you are in any danger.
  • See if the locals know something: Some more rural abandoned locations will have stories with them. Asking the local townsfolk or just some people around the building about it will help you gain perspective. Knowing why it is abandoned will help immensely to be safer when you do go exploring.
  • Ask permission: Sometimes, not always, you can contact the owner of an abandoned building and receive their permission or even a tour of the place. This will greatly enhance your experience and will mean that you no longer need to fear being caught or getting lost while exploring a place that may have more secrets than you could realize.
  • Don’t push it: Many first-time explorers want to try it all, going as far as they can, trying to see what they can get and what they can do to the utmost extreme. This is never a good idea; staying on the side of safety when you are finally inside a building is always better. Don’t wade through water, don’t jump gaps, and never break anything.


Urban exploring is one of the most fun things you can do, seeing places no one has seen for many years, seeing how things have broken or become dilapidated. Easily one of the most thrilling feelings in the world is seeing a sight that no one else has seen.

One of the most amazing feelings is walking into a long-abandoned mall and discovering that the fountain in the center has become home to hundreds of creatures.

Just be sure to be aware of the seven dangers of urban exploring and keep to the path of a true explorer, leave no trace that you were ever even there!

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