People can often feel a little scared or reserved before heading out on a paranormal investigation. With the huge Hollywood and reality TV influence, people often feel like they are going to be harmed. I have heard so many people use the joke "You aren't going to get thrown across the room and if you are, please make sure you get it on camera!" The thing is, there are indeed some things you will need to watch out for when investigating the paranormal, but there isn't anything paranormal about them! It's not the ghosts you need to be worried about! Here are some of the very normal hazards that you need to be mindful of when investigating the paranormal.
First of all, trespassing is not a good idea. In fact, it is illegal so just don't do it. It may seem harmless to sneak into an old building for a makeshift investigation, but you could in fact be risking your health, especially if it is a 'secret' location that you regularly visit. A lot of older properties, particularly in Australia have traces of the cancer-causing mineral asbestos.
Asbestos is the name used for a group of naturally occurring minerals. They have resistance to high temperatures and fire and make effective insulators and so were popular in building products in Australia from the 1940s to 1987. Asbestos-containing materials include:
flat and corrugated sheeting
automobile parts such as brake pads
Australia was one of the highest users of asbestos per capita. Products containing asbestos were phased out during the 1980s, a national ban on asbestos, its importation and all products containing asbestos came into effect at the end of 2003.
Also, be mindful if you are conducting private investigations at houses that are doing renovations. If it is an old property, it is quite likely there is asbestos in the walls.
Still, on the topic of abandoned locations, they are often abandoned and fenced off for a reason. It is because they are inhabitable. Rusty nails, broken floor panels, rats, broken tiles, and smashed windows are just some of the hazards you can encounter. Even stepping on the stairs could see you falling through the stairs. You could severely injure yourself. Even in some of the historical locations the public has access to, places like prisons for example can have objects that you need to watch out for. I have seen someone injure themselves in a public location just by leaning against a wall where there was a rusty screw hanging out of the wall. It is also worth noting that if you are tall, a lot of the doorways are not as tall as they are today. Watch your head!
Another hazard of abandoned buildings is that they are often occupied by squatters. In these situations, I can assure you that living becomes even more terrifying than the dead. They can become quite territorial and aggressive. Sometimes they are under the influence of drugs and alcohol and it is not a situation you want to be in. The best way to avoid this is not to trespass and do your investigation in a safe and legal way.
A lot of investigators like to investigate the paranormal at night for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it is the only time you can visit certain locations. Typically, a lot of people will investigate in the dark with the lights off. While they have their own reasons for doing so, it can also present a hazard because you cannot see where you are walking in what are often unfamiliar surroundings. I will admit I have bumped into all sorts of things before because I am clumsy. If you don't want to use a torch or flashlight or have the lights on, consider using red light as it can help you see in the dark without affecting your natural night vision. Don't use your camera screen as your guide as while looking at your screen to see where you are going, you can easily become disorientated and fall over or bump into a wall.
A lot of people like to investigate in outdoor locations such as park reserves and cemeteries. Many allow 24/7 access so it can be an easy way for many to conduct an investigation. I know investigating in Australia, there are certain hazards to be mindful of. Snakes are a big one, particularly in old regional cemeteries where they are not kept as well as they could be. I would be very cautious walking through the long grass at night, particularly during summer. You may find a nasty surprise. A snake won't attack you unless they feel threatened, but if you step on one accidentally, it won't be so forgiving. My dad is a landscape gardener and he comes across snakes even in suburban backyards. While some are not lethal, it is not something you want to risk either way. Spiders are also common in older buildings. I know Australia has a reputation for our big spiders, but it isn't the big ones you really have to worry about it. The small white tail spiders which are quite common, are not lethal but can cause nasty infections which if untreated can lead to amputation.
Kangaroos are also a hazard here in Australia. While they aren't roaming around our residential streets as many people from overseas think, they can be dangerous. First of all, if you are out somewhere like an old cemetery and a kangaroo approaches you and is in fight mode, you are probably going to come off second best so if you see one, leave it alone. One of the biggest hazards I have encountered with kangaroos is driving back from regional locations in the middle of the night. It is pitch black, there is no street lighting and you are on a highway doing over 100kms an hour. It is not uncommon for a kangaroo to jump out in front of the car. In fact, I have had it happen several times to be driving home from Aradale and it is terrifying. If you know someone who has hit a kangaroo with their car at a high speed, it is quite a dangerous situation. Keep your wits about you even driving to and from your locations.
Just because we can, should we?
Finally, look after the location you are investigating with respect and care. It is so upsetting when you see locations have burned down from paranormal investigators being careless or damaging the property. While there is no regulation in the paranormal field, there are some widely known ethics I guess you would call it. Much like urban explorers have the motto "leave only footprints, take only photos", paranormal investigators are expected to respect their location and treat it accordingly.
What are your tips for safe paranormal investigating?
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