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The Six Most Dangerous Types of Abandoned Places & What Makes Them so Risky

Abandoned places, cloaked in mystery and intrigue, can be quite irresistible, tempting passersby to explore their now-hidden pasts. Who lived there? Who died there? And what happened all the years in between? Perhaps more so, abandoned places force us to look at our own mortality, and embrace our own very liveliness while it's here.

abandoned factory

Toxic waste is often left behind in abandoned factories like this one.

"The point [of abandoned places] is to be in the presence of the abandoned place, even briefly, and to then let your mind and spirit wander inside of them. If you seek a means to stir your soul, to ignite your creativity, to remind yourself and loved ones how fleeting life is and why now ... NOW ... is the only time to pursue your dreams and purpose, and to know you more, I highly recommend abandoned places," says author and change advocate Brian Vaszily in his Live Deeper blog.

But while abandoned places can, and should, be appreciated for their ability to stir your soul and awaken your sleeping dreams, they must also be respected for the very real dangers some of them hold. By their very nature, abandoned places are often unsafe, either in structure or environment, which is why sometimes they're best admired from a distance.

"Your body doesn't need to wander inside them [to feel their presence]," Vaszily points out. "Where safety is a concern you don't even need to wander too near to them."

Before exploring any abandoned place, always put your safety first. If you have any doubts, don't go near it (and, as Vaszily points out, you'll still be able to appreciate it from afar).

Abandoned House

Want to See More
Abandoned Places?

Fascinated by abandoned places? We are too! In Brian Vaszily's Live Deeper blog series "The Point and the Power of Abandoned Places" you can find out why so many are drawn to these places, plus check out 40 of the coolest pictures of abandoned places around the world!

Abandoned Places to Watch Out For

Some abandoned places are inherently more dangerous than others (a giant factory as opposed to a garden tool shed in your neighbor's backyard, for instance), but every deserted space has the potential to cause harm. The following vacant spaces are those that are most likely to be dangerous, so if you spot one, keep your inner explorer under control and use extreme caution.

1. Abandoned Mines and Quarries

The dangers inside an abandoned mine can be life-threatening, and experts say entering one is quite literally suicidal. Dangers include:

  • Old mines may contain radon, radioactive material or abandoned explosives

  • Vertical shafts, which may be hundreds of feet deep, are susceptible to cave-ins and collapse

  • The air in mines can contain lethal gasses (that you can't see or smell), such as methane, carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulfide

  • Tunnels can have falling rocks, holes that drop down hundreds of feet, and rotten timbers that don't support your weight

  • Piles of loose materials (refuse or old stock) can collapse and bury a person

  • Water-filled quarry pits and sediment ponds are often very deep and may contain very cold water. The edges are also very slick and steep, making it nearly impossible to get out without assistance.

2. Abandoned Houses and Apartment Buildings

Though abandoned houses and apartments can be particularly tempting to explore, they hold countless dangers such as:

  • They're often used by drug-users or vagrants, particularly in urban areas

  • Abandoned houses are prime locations for prostitution and gang activity

  • Their structures are not kept up, making them vulnerable to collapse

  • They're fire hazards (particularly to neighboring buildings)

3. Abandoned Vehicles

Abandoned buildings are often vulnerable to collapse. Want to see more cool photos of abandoned places? Check out "The Point and the Power of Abandoned Places.

Millions of vehicles are abandoned each year, posing a threat to the environment and also any would-be explorers. Risks include:

  • They may have been involved in a crime (that you don't want to get involved in)

  • They're often subject to vandalism, theft and arson

  • They can leak hazardous fluids

  • They may explode

  • Broken windows can cause injuries

  • They may contain hazardous or illegal materials (people often fill them with waste)

  • Wild animals

4. Abandoned Farms

People are often eager to spot an abandoned farm along a country road, but beware of going near it. These structures:

  • May include rotting timbers, making them vulnerable to collapse

  • May house vagrants or wild animals

  • May contain abandoned farm equipment that may be corroded and can collapse

5. Abandoned Wells

There are tens of thousands of abandoned wells across the country, but you typically only hear about them during a tragedy (such as a child falling into one). Risks of abandoned wells include:

  • They're often hidden by grass, brush or collapsed buildings

  • They're wide enough that children, pets and wild animals can fall into them and get trapped

  • They can damage farm equipment (that may roll over a hidden well)

  • They threaten groundwater supplies by allowing toxins to flow directly into water supplies

6. Abandoned factories

While abandoned factories may look harmless enough, they're full of risks, including:

  • Toxic waste is often left behind

  • They're susceptible to collapse and arson

  • Underground storage tanks can leak hazardous materials into groundwater

  • Broken windows and falling support structures can cause injury

  • Stairwells may not support a person's weight

  • There may be vagrants, drug-users, prostitution or other illegal activity going on inside

Recommended Reading

What are the Dangers of Living Near Cell Phone Towers?

The Dangers of and Arguments for Salvia -- The Completely Legal Hallucinatory Drug


Mines & Quarries

National Ag Safety Database

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