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For those who are scared..

EFRESHW

New member
Hi everyone !

I really want to find a neat way to help those who are beginning caving/ thinking of caving find it less intimidating.

Does anyone know of any good statistics ( with sources?) which represent how safe caving can be ?

For instance, I hear about how you are more likely to injure yourself horse riding than caving, but is there any evidence of this..?

I know that might be a hard question to answer, but you guys have been amazing recently!

Elise
 

wellyjen

Active member
What are the circumstances? Do the worried people have much of a choice in being there? Have they decided to go caving of their own free will, or are they under some duress, a school trip, on a course, or something?
Fear doesn't respond well to statistics. Especially low probability, high personal consequence ones, like a caving accident. We either dismiss it, or blow it out of proportion and actual numbers based on real world experience won't shift that for most people. I'd use any stats, made up, or real as an aside before such a fear had been expressed. I'd concentrate on the positives of the sport, not on the negatives. After all, it is supposed to be fun. Type two fun, but fun none the less. Once some one has said that they are frightened, then I'd try and understand it in more detail. Is it darkness, heights, water, whatever and address those concerns specific to the person.

You've got to accept that not every one can be persuaded to go underground. Of those, only a tiny proportion are going to like it enough to want to do it again. Fears you don't have yourself you're not going to understand properly and are going to be ineffective in shifting. Phobias, you won't shift at all.

Oddly enough, when behind the wheel and barreling down the highway, turning round and telling people on their way to do their first caving trip that they are much more likely to die on the drive to the cave than in the cave itself is not as reassuring as you'd think! 😀
Jen
 

cap n chris

Well-known member
Gauging the Risk, by Pete Mohr, in Descent 153 (iirc) went into considerable depth on precisely this topic.
 

cap n chris

Well-known member
Statistically I would anticipate the riskiest caving in terms of call outs to be Immediately post Freshers. Long been known as Silly Season.
 

JoshW

Active member
Mad Phil (I think through Ghar parau) had some stats about expected injuries per 100 hours doing activities and sports like football/rugby were a good 7/8 times higher from memory.

I think the key issue here is the impact of an injury/incident, where even a small injury can have a large knock on effect, both in terms of further injuries (hypothermia etc) but also the profile of the incident. I’ve seen several broken legs playing football and a quick hop in a car/ambulance to hospital and no one is any the wiser
 

langcliffe

Well-known member
According to this paper, caving is perceived as being relatively risky (compared to other 'adventure' sports) by non-participants, but relatively safe by its participants.
 

wellyjen

Active member
Further to my point above, that statistics will help with getting people generally more happy with going caving, but won't help with any specific fears they have. There are the fears that some one doesn't even think are going to be a problem going caving and you don't think to ask about, so they don't express it till they are underground. Spiders are a good one for this, with the colonies of cave spiders in the daylight zone of many caves and mines. Have heard of novices with arachnaphobia bail out within a yard of the entrance. Telling them that the statistics say that the risk of death from a spider bite in a UK cave is zero isn't going to help at all!
 

Leclused

Active member
Some articles I found with the following keywords : injuries risk sports caving comparison

 

mrodoc

Well-known member
Further to my point above, that statistics will help with getting people generally more happy with going caving, but won't help with any specific fears they have. There are the fears that some one doesn't even think are going to be a problem going caving and you don't think to ask about, so they don't express it till they are underground. Spiders are a good one for this, with the colonies of cave spiders in the daylight zone of many caves and mines. Have heard of novices with arachnaphobia bail out within a yard of the entrance. Telling them that the statistics say that the risk of death from a spider bite in a UK cave is zero isn't going to help at all!
Can believe this! One very well known caver had a list of caving regions he wouldn't visit in view of the spider population there. He got himself cured as it was limiting his options. I just keep my head down through the spider zone. Notable examples are the entrance areas of Reservoir Hole and Dog Hole.
 

ttxela2

Active member
I suspect for most people the problem is more, as you say, intimidation than a statistics based fear. They aren't thinking to themselves 'I don't like this because I might not make it out alive' but more, "I don't like this because it’s dark/claustrophobic/cold,wet" etc. I once went on a trip with a lady who was terrified of mud.

I can be a little wary myself, I very much enjoy being underground (more so in mines than in caves) but I actually feel happier exploring on my own and making my own decisions without the group pressure and feeling that I might be spoiling someone elses trip by turning back or moving too slowly. Although I’m aware that this may actually increase the real danger.

I'm very much there to explore and see things than 'push myself' sometimes of course in order to see the best stuff it’s necessary to put yourself in slightly uncomfortable scenarios.

If you think of caving in terms of hiking then I’m very much a Sunday afternoon rambler than an Everest climber and that’s OK. Some folk will progress from strolls by the canal to summiting Everest but some will continue happily going for short ambles and having picnics.

So really the biggest thing I’d say is to remove pressure to ‘progress’ and let folk do what they enjoy!
 

mrodoc

Well-known member
When we got married my wife couldn't understand the attraction of caving. One trip to Sump One is Swildons completely changed her attitude and three or four trips later saw her at the bitter end of Otter Hole. How one imagines a cave can be important in deterring people.
 

ttxela2

Active member
Further to my point above, that statistics will help with getting people generally more happy with going caving, but won't help with any specific fears they have. There are the fears that some one doesn't even think are going to be a problem going caving and you don't think to ask about, so they don't express it till they are underground. Spiders are a good one for this, with the colonies of cave spiders in the daylight zone of many caves and mines. Have heard of novices with arachnaphobia bail out within a yard of the entrance. Telling them that the statistics say that the risk of death from a spider bite in a UK cave is zero isn't going to help at all!
Yes, the lady I took who was scared of mud did say she wasn't keen on mud beforehand and did ask if there would be any. My interpretation of mud was more something at least ankle deep however her interpretation was more anything that wasn't tarmac or solid rock (even parking the car on the grass verge turned out to be an issue) and so the trip was interesting. An alternative of just going to the pub instead was offered and several 'outs' on the way around, however she chose to continue and despite being in tears for much of the trip, we completed everything as planned. Afterwards she said she was very glad she had done it but never wanted to go again.

Looking back I'm not really sure what she got out of it, she was certainly telling folk at work all about it the next day. She was pleased and rather proud to have faced her fears and not let them stop her, despite not having really got over them.
 

wellyjen

Active member
Yes, the lady I took who was scared of mud did say she wasn't keen on mud beforehand and did ask if there would be any. My interpretation of mud was more something at least ankle deep however her interpretation was more anything that wasn't tarmac or solid rock (even parking the car on the grass verge turned out to be an issue) and so the trip was interesting. An alternative of just going to the pub instead was offered and several 'outs' on the way around, however she chose to continue and despite being in tears for much of the trip, we completed everything as planned. Afterwards she said she was very glad she had done it but never wanted to go again.

Looking back I'm not really sure what she got out of it, she was certainly telling folk at work all about it the next day. She was pleased and rather proud to have faced her fears and not let them stop her, despite not having really got over them.
It is a fine balancing act. Helping some one go outside what they are comfortable with, but not getting in to pressuring them in to something they can't handle, let alone bullying. We put a lot of stock in getting a new person in to caving as a sport, but the folk who do it once, had a very intense experience, didn't particularly like it, will never do it again, but are glad they did are just as satisfying. It is a very intuitive thing, with no hard and fast rules.
My approach to statistics, if I mention them at all is personal. How many years/decades I've been doing this without problems to give them confidence in you as a leader. The thousands who go caving in the particular caving area and the number of rescue call outs a year (low double digits, including searches and animals here).
 

ttxela2

Active member
How many years/decades I've been doing this without problems to give them confidence in you as a leader.
Reminds me slightly of a meeting I went to where we were discussing the wisdom of siting a new building on a floodplain area. The design consultants attempted to reassure us by saying the records indicated the area only had a once in one hundred year flooding frequency.

Someone asked how long ago the last flood was?

ninety eight years ago was the reply....... 😂
 

AR

Well-known member
When taking complete novices into Mouldridge Mine, immediately after crossing the road from the parking area I tend to say "OK, that's the most dangerous bit of the trip done", which is true - statistically, we're far more likely to suffer serious injury or death crossing the road.
 

domestos bend

New member
It always amuses me when horseriders say to me " I couldn't go climbing / caving etc. far too dangerous" . Every other ambo / A nd E programme case seems to involve a horse.
 

menacer

Active member
Hi everyone !

I really want to find a neat way to help those who are beginning caving/ thinking of caving find it less intimidating.

Does anyone know of any good statistics ( with sources?) which represent how safe caving can be ?

For instance, I hear about how you are more likely to injure yourself horse riding than caving, but is there any evidence of this..?

I know that might be a hard question to answer, but you guys have been amazing recently!

Elise
I think caving just has all the most common phobias in one sport.
From heights, to enclosed spaces, the dark or spiders.
Even just being cold and wet is unpleasant without any preconceptions and puts many people off.

That said, we had a guy in a club I belonged to that didn't like the dark, didn't like small spaces or heights, but he loved the comeradery of being part of a group in a club.
He belonged to something that provides him all the security and advantages of social interactions pre and post the caving trip.
So, for him, the few hours of misery, interspersed with elation at overcoming the obstacles with the moral support of his team, made the whole thing worth it.

He used to openly say, I don't like the dark, I don't like heights I don't like small spaces but caving is the only thing I'm good at.
It says a lot about the whole package of club caving which is why I would recommend joining a club, to have that moral support if you need it.

It's not just the act of caving, it's way more.
 
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