Safety Protocol for Persons Completing Karst Assessments

Last revised: January 26, 2013 Please refresh your browser before printing.

The following safety protocol was produced to help Karst Assessors in completing karst assessments safely.

You may copy this information into a safety plan under a limited licence from the Karst Specialist Association of BC. The following two conditions of licence must be met.

1.       Karst Specialist Association of BC is accredited.

2.       Submitted a small donation to the Karst Specialist Association.

The majority of all karst assessments are for governments or major land or tenure holders in BC. As such, most have field procedures for working in the forests. Adding to these field procedures are the following recommendations when working in and around karst.

1.       Never work alone or apart from another individual. Keep within voice or sight at all times.

2.       Know your GPS location.

3.       Reduce speed when travelling on foot over bare limestone bed rock.

4.       Use extreme caution when travelling over open or shallow soiled grike topography.

5.       Consider roping in when descending an active sink hole, there are many sinks with false bottoms leading to deep pits. You MUST be trained in vertical caving before entering a dangerous sink.

6.       Use a sinkhole probe to probe the ground head of you to ascertain stability and sound structure to hold your weight. Always have a person on the surface outside the rim to initiate rescue if need arises.

7.       Accidents within caves are further complicated with the onset of hypothermia, aggravating injuries which can quicken death. With this in mind choose appropriate clothing.

8.       Never enter a cavity without an individual remaining on the surface at the entrance. The person at the entrance must be able to summon help within a reasonable period of time.

9.       Carefully check all entrances for loose or ready to fall material. Scale hazard areas where appropriate. Cave entrance sections are the most dangerous, due to loose material and false floors that can collapse.

10.   Do not enter a cave without proper training and equipment.


11.   Personal Gear, in addition to what is worn on surface field trips:

         Lights: Carry with you a minimum of two lights with spare batteries. One or two lights of rugged construction on your head, preferably 90 lumens or greater. One or two lights of rugged construction inside your cave suit, preferably a twist on or a hard to push button that cannot be accidently turned on while navigating tight passages. A waterproof dive light works well. Maintain these lights on a regular schedule.

         Climbing helmet or hardhat with chin strap.

         Gloves, water resistant.

         Water shedding undergarments.

         Appropriate clothing for temperatures ranging from 3-8 degrees Celsius.

         An exterior water/tear resistant cave suite. Consider knee pads.

         A spare set of dry clothing in waterproof container.

         Rubber boots, please no caulked boots in caves.

         Energy food/drink.



12.   Vertical pitches (Prior training in vertical work is assumed)

         Must be physically capable of completing the vertical work planned.

         Pitches greater than 2 meters must be roped.

         For pitches greater than 3 meters individuals must be physically connected to rope.

         Minimum of two persons with vertical experience on drops less than 20 meters.

         Minimum of three persons for a single entrance drop. One on drop, one on surface with gear on or ready to drop within 5 minutes, one to remain on surface.

         Tie a knot four feet from the end of the rope.

         Carry at least one rope abrasion sleeve.

         A minimum of two main ropes of equal length on site, spare can be longer.

         One self rescue kit.

         Descend with ascenders on, able to switch over within 2 minutes.

         Minimum of one person on surface with communication equipment and knowledge of use.

         Scale loose material from all vertical pitches.

         Planning extensive vertical work? Coordinate it with BC Cave Rescue two weeks prior. This helps to facilitate faster rescue response. You must provide accurate coordinates in lat/long including detailed travel route to cave. Consider flagging the route from the vehicle to the cave.

13.   To Initiate a Cave Rescue

         Initiate recue according to your workplace safety protocol.

         Contact 911

         Request the RCMP

         Request RCMP to initiate a cave rescue through Emergency Management BC (Provincial Emergency Program)

         Alert BC Cave Rescue through Emergency Coordination Centre at 1-800-663-3456.

14.   In your vehicle, an initial response kit, includes but is not limited to:

         One high quality insulated space blanket.

         One polyester fill sleeping bag.

         One thermal sleeping pad.

         2 tarps, not less than 100 square feet.

         100' of rope for tying down tarps.

         6 heat packs.

         Toque, gloves, socks

         One camp stove able to boil 2 gallons of water.

         One general triage first aid kit. Stock according to the highest level of training on your crew.

15     Leave a map with a third person in town/camp with detailed travel instructions of where you are and when you expect to be back.