- Always carry an emergency kit in a watertight container. Items which
could be included are; accident form, pencil, lighter, spare jet, spare
bulb, spare battery(s), whistle, knife. Some of these items might already
be carried on your helmet or around your neck.
- Fit rubber bands made from car inner tubes on your gumboots. When ascending,
feed the footloops through the rubber bands to help keep the footloops
in position on your feet.
- Fit rubber bands made from bicycle inner tubes on your footloops (you
may need to double them). When using the footloops, roll the rubber bands
down to tighten the footloop around your foot. Footloops will not fall
off as you ascend.
- Make a carbide carrying container (carbide pig) from an inner tube.
Cut a short length (400mm) from a motorcycle inner tube, fold the end over
and secure it with a rubber band (cut from the tube). Fill with carbide
and fold the open end over, securing it with a rubber band. The pig allows
the carbide to be extracted easily, is reasonably watertight and gets smaller
as you use the carbide.
- If you ever lose or damage the base to your waist-mounted generator,
you can use a carbide pig as a makeshift replacement ( I have seen this
happen). A pig made from a motorcycle inner tube is best. Stretch the open
end of the pig over the base of the water reservoir. Secure it with a rubber
band if necessary. Protect the pig from any knocks as you continue.
- Ariane generators suffer from blockages to the water feed by waste
carbide. Put your carbide into a length of nylon stocking, knotted at one
end. Place this in the generator base. This contains the waste carbide
and makes changing your carbide a breeze. Or you can carry a toothbrush
to clean out the water feed.
- Corrosion is often a problem with the battery connections on a Petzl
Laser headset. Use vaseline on the contacts to prevent moisture from corroding
- Don't you hate fiddling with the krab on your cowstail to orientate
it before clipping in? Use a rubber band (cut from a motorcycle inner tube)
to secure one end of the krab to your cowstail. Twist it around and through
the krab until it is tight. The krab is always the right way around to
- Keep a survival bag and perhaps an emergency form in your helmet. It
is always with you then, even if you are separated from your caving pack.
Survival blankets tend to deteriorate and break up into little squares
over time so check them every so often if you use them instead of survival
- Don't drink yellow water.
- If you don't like being a leader in caves, consider this: the leader
gets to see where they place their feet when moving upstream in a cave.
Followers stumble along behind in the now muddy water. Become a leader
and see where you are going!
- Waste carbide can be a problem and a danger. Tip your waste into a
strong plastic bag or use 2 thin bags. Tie a loose knot in the bag to allow
any gas to dissipate slowly. A sealed bag will accumulate gas, until it
suddenly breaks, allowing the possibility of an explosion (I've seen it
- Consider carrying a piece of #8 wire, looped at one end, to use to
loosen waste carbide in your generator. This avoids using fingers to do
the job, especially when there is no water to wash in afterwards. I carry
mine on my helmet, secured to the gas tubing by rubber bands.
- Always wash your hands after handling waste carbide. If you are unable
to do so, do not put gloves on until you are able to wash. Otherwise, sweat
builds up in your gloves, dissolving enough waste carbide (slaked lime)
to remove your skin and leave you with carbide burns. Better still, don't
handle waste carbide.
- Avoid filling your carbide generator with murky water, The silt settles
later to clog your water feed, Either use clear water from pools or carry
your own supply.
- If you have to wait in a cave and you are getting cold, put your generator
down the front of your overalls to act as a hot water bottle. It's too
bad if you use a Premier or electric system!
- Wear a balaclava whenever you go caving. It doesn't have to be worn
around your head all the time, you can wear it around your neck until you
stop and start to cool down. Remember the tramping adage: keep your head
warm and you keep the rest of your body warm.
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