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After tragic death of experienced geocacher - what needs to change?

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Actually, from am accident prevention standpoint, there is only one way to determine what needs to be changed, and that is to know exactly what happened. If we start offering solutions, without the facts, all we have is speculation that doing "X" might have prevented this. In any accident investigation, details are critical.

This is not an accident investigation, much as certain people would like to assume the role.

 

With respect to the departed, endless detail of one person's demise is not useful in justifying safety changes on gc.com: that cacher is not going to die that way again. So, move on, and justify those safety measures by means of a range of other perceived dangers, near misses, and so on.

Of course it's an accident investigation. There are 17 pages worth of folks trying to figure out how to make this game safer, and folks saying that the proposed suggestions would not make the game safer. These 17 pages exist because of this particular incident. Had we known nothing about the incident other than a geocacher died near ground zero, (no GC #, no cause of death, etc), this thread would not have passed half a page.

 

For us to have any notion regarding what might have prevented this incident, (AKA: been effective), we need to know what caused the incident, else we really are just tilting at windmills. The latest thread regarding caches hidden on electrical equipment is a good example of this. To date, there has not been a single reported injury or death, in these forums, at a cache on electrical equipment. Yet, folks still argue about them.

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For us to have any notion regarding what might have prevented this incident ...
That shouldn't be the aim. The aim should be to come up with measures that would generalise, that would apply to other scenarios, that would do more than prevent just this specific incident. It's disproportionate to dwell on just one example.

 

Hey, I bet GS are glad they've got the excuse of the winter holiday to let them off any substantial response to the incident. I wonder what's happened to the OP, though?

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For us to have any notion regarding what might have prevented this incident ...
That shouldn't be the aim. The aim should be to come up with measures that would generalise, that would apply to other scenarios, that would do more than prevent just this specific incident. It's disproportionate to dwell on just one example.

 

Hey, I bet GS are glad they've got the excuse of the winter holiday to let them off any substantial response to the incident. I wonder what's happened to the OP, though?

 

Anytime that has happened in this thread the attention was always drawn back to prevent this accident. And realistically there have been very very few deaths due to geocaching.

 

I would suggest if people want to prevent accidents to use the tools at hand. Stop placing caches against the guidelines would be a good start. Those that find caches in violation of the guide lines can start using their tools at hand and contacting reviewers. They can also use their tool in hand and start putting more detail in their logs about it.

 

I would suggest to finders to use their tools at hand and read logs. Yup, it might take awhile but if you're that concerned about your safety and wellbeing you'll do it. I do it. I do crazy stuff like look at topographic maps, road maps, pictures in the logs, read the logs etc. And then I take the radical move of once I get to ground zero taking my time and if it seems to be too dangerous or a cache that appears to be somewhere it shouldn't be I turn around. A smiley isn't worth my life.

 

If this was a real global problem we would have been having this discussion before he died. Not now. After he died and after it was pointed out there was some social mores and localized problems specific to where he was caching all of which led up to him being where he was that night. Ultimately he made a choice to do a t 3.5 cache at night.

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For us to have any notion regarding what might have prevented this incident ...
That shouldn't be the aim. The aim should be to come up with measures that would generalise, that would apply to other scenarios, that would do more than prevent just this specific incident. It's disproportionate to dwell on just one example.

 

Hey, I bet GS are glad they've got the excuse of the winter holiday to let them off any substantial response to the incident. I wonder what's happened to the OP, though?

 

Anytime that has happened in this thread the attention was always drawn back to prevent this accident. And realistically there have been very very few deaths due to geocaching.

 

I would suggest if people want to prevent accidents to use the tools at hand. Stop placing caches against the guidelines would be a good start. Those that find caches in violation of the guide lines can start using their tools at hand and contacting reviewers. They can also use their tool in hand and start putting more detail in their logs about it.

 

I would suggest to finders to use their tools at hand and read logs. Yup, it might take awhile but if you're that concerned about your safety and wellbeing you'll do it. I do it. I do crazy stuff like look at topographic maps, road maps, pictures in the logs, read the logs etc. And then I take the radical move of once I get to ground zero taking my time and if it seems to be too dangerous or a cache that appears to be somewhere it shouldn't be I turn around. A smiley isn't worth my life.

 

If this was a real global problem we would have been having this discussion before he died. Not now. After he died and after it was pointed out there was some social mores and localized problems specific to where he was caching all of which led up to him being where he was that night. Ultimately he made a choice to do a t 3.5 cache at night.

I agree totally with this answer.

 

It is time to admit that what we already have is good and use it. Close this thread now.

 

It was in fact in poor taste to post it in the first place. A general idea without getting a dead Geocacher's name and a particular Geocache becoming involved.

 

The only reason to have started this thread including all the info, was to cause a sensation. Not good.

 

Shirley~

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For us to have any notion regarding what might have prevented this incident ...
That shouldn't be the aim. The aim should be to come up with measures that would generalise, that would apply to other scenarios, that would do more than prevent just this specific incident. It's disproportionate to dwell on just one example.

 

Hey, I bet GS are glad they've got the excuse of the winter holiday to let them off any substantial response to the incident. I wonder what's happened to the OP, though?

Just because someone tragically died while searching for a cache it not a reason to impose general measures to try to prevent anyone from having any sort of accident in the future. While there is a tendency in these cases to respond proactively, that often results in unnecessary rules and regulation. For this reason it is impossible to come to a consensus at to what these rules should be.

 

We certainly can discuss generic ways to make geocaching safer. However, it is clear that you can't remove all risks and that you probably don't want to (as many geocachers enjoy the challenges involved in a physically demanding cache). Generic solutions are either not going to have much effect or else be too extreme. It seems more promising to look at specific cases and ask what could have been done differently to prevent the accident. Often these solutions can apply elsewhere and there is at least one example where you might be able to argue that a new rule would have saved a life.

 

While we don't know all the facts in this case, we do know enough of them to begin to think about how things could have been done differently. This extends from better enforcement of rules requiring permission to place a cache, to better ways to communicate a specific hazard such as a missing section of walkway.

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OK, I am somewhat, slowly leaning toward your side of things, given that explanation. At least, I can see your point. Can you see mine, though? That having a warning becomes a sense of false security when nobody has posted one on a cache that may be dangerous anyway?

I know this wasn't directed at me, but for the record... I think your point is valid concern. I still lean towards thinking that some sort of community-driven Warning Log / Safety Flag could be useful, but I'm leery of a poorly-thought-out implementation rushed to rollout. Some traffic safety measures just encourage people to drive crazier; some sports safety equipment has encouraged more careless behavior. It doesn't mean that all safety measures and equipment is useless, I don't think, but it does mean that effects may not be obvious and treading carefully is worthwhile.

 

So yes, I do see your point.

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Toz,

"It seems more promising to look at specific cases" ...

  1. ... continuing with this one (let's go into it in still greater depth!); or
  2. ... from a wide range of examples, not just this one (it's over, let it go!).

If #2 then we are in agreement.

 

OK, New Year's resolution - I'm done with this overcooked turkey. Well, in a few hours anyway.

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If this was a real global problem we would have been having this discussion before he died. Not now.

According to this logic, it's only a real issue if we had discussed it before someone died.

 

In another thread, about fake electrical boxes, that nobody has yet died is taken as evidence that there is in fact no problem.

 

Perhaps we shouldn't use an individual's death as the litmus test for whether or not a safety issue is worth discussing.

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As some of you might have heard already, one of our most experienced geocachers in Dresden, Germany, died this week while caching. The tragedy is too enormous to find the right words - he was only 21, shared an account with his family, was a very likeable guy, and died while attempting a cache that does not look all that dangerous. But unfortunately it was.

 

I will try to add some more facts below, and then would like to hear ideas from the collective wisdom of cachers of what we can do to try and avoid such a tragedy ever happening again. Let's please try to keep this thread just for this purpose, I specifically post this here and in English since I don't want it to mix with the sorrow and shock of our local community. But I can't stop thinking how we can avoid this in the future.

 

Some of the facts:

- together with his family, he had found almost 5000 caches and hidden more than 100

- cachers who know him much better than me describe him as a level-headed, rational guy who did NOT take crazy risks

- the cache listing (GC37G4T) looks not very dangerous - it's a district heating bridge over a small river that one had to climb on (D2/T3.5)

- he most likely slipped and fell into the shallow river below.

- most chillingly, while reading the 34 found logs, I discovered these: Cacher1: "Ich starre schön auf mein gps Radar und höre plötzlich Cacher2 von hinten quicken.da war mein fuss schon über dem nicht vorhandenem Gitter...kleiner schreck aber Cache gefunden." ("I'm staring nicely at my gps and suddenly hear cacher2 squeak from behind. At that moment my foot was already above the non-existing grid...small scare but cache found.") ---- Cacher2: "Das hätte ins auge gehn können!der Cacher1 wäre fast in die tiefe gefallen!zum glück war da noch eine querstrebe!dose sehr schnell gefunden!" ("This could almost have gone wrong. Cacher1 almost fell down into the deep! Luckily there was this other crossbar! Container found very quickly!")

 

Ultimately, I think we all agree that each and every one of us is responsible for the risks we take while caching ourselves and there is an inherent risk in anything we do in this life, including caching. However, I think we also have a responsability towards fellow cachers when we see and identify a (maybe not so obvious) risk to WARN THEM. Like the cachers did above in a way...in a log that was quickly lost in the stream of other logs.

 

My personal idea/opinion is to add a new section to every cache: "Warnings:" where specific warnings can be added to not only by the cache owner but by every cacher. A boiler plate warning just doesnt do since most of us would quickly glance over it soon. We should be quick and honest about health risks we see with a particular cache, without fear of spoilering or not - nothing is more valuable than human life and if it means more spoilers and warnings on the cache pages, so be it.

 

But this is only my own personal idea, and I hope that there are tons of others out there so we can do our part to help make sure that no other parents or children ever have to receive such a devastating message like his family did here in Dresden this week.

 

How tragic

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I like warnings. I think they are a good thing.

 

I just think the listing belongs to the cache owner and it should be up to the cache owner to post any warning they deem relevant.

 

It would be nice if cache owners took the warnings posted in logs and integrated them into the description. But if they don't, that is their prerogative. It just means I have to look a little deeper to glean the information.

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I like warnings. I think they are a good thing.

 

I just think the listing belongs to the cache owner and it should be up to the cache owner to post any warning they deem relevant.

 

It would be nice if cache owners took the warnings posted in logs and integrated them into the description. But if they don't, that is their prerogative. It just means I have to look a little deeper to glean the information.

+1 I have one cache that has a huge hole in the ground on the way there, several 100 feet from the cache. Never considered the hole a problem till someone tried the cache at night and came too close to the hole and said so in their log. I never had been there at night and never would have gone at night. During the day the hole was almost imposssible to not see, at night another story. I posted a warning for this cache ASAP.

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If this was a real global problem we would have been having this discussion before he died. Not now.

According to this logic, it's only a real issue if we had discussed it before someone died.

 

In another thread, about fake electrical boxes, that nobody has yet died is taken as evidence that there is in fact no problem.

 

Perhaps we shouldn't use an individual's death as the litmus test for whether or not a safety issue is worth discussing.

+1

I think safety should always be an issue. Not a we-must-wear-helmets-when-on-sidewalks issue, but an issue. Just because someone hasn't done something yet, doesn't mean no one ever will.

 

We all make choices. If you go mountain biking, you can die. If you go jeeping, you can die. If you hike, you can fall off a cliff and die. You can be thrown off a horse and die. You can be riding a bicycle and have someone open their car door on you and die. Or you can fall out of bed and die. Pretty much everything can have a worst case scenario attached to it.

 

When something tragic like this happens, a lot of people are going to want to discuss it and rethink a lot of things and figure out how to avoid having this happen again. In Northern Utah, there was a small rash of people being hit by trax trains. Obviously, the solution is to not dart infront of the train or ignore train crossing warnings, but it was all over the news forever. We want people to know and we want to prevent such events from reoccuring.

 

Steps do need to be taken to protect each other and ourselves, hence:

I like warnings. I think they are a good thing.

 

I just think the listing belongs to the cache owner and it should be up to the cache owner to post any warning they deem relevant.

 

It would be nice if cache owners took the warnings posted in logs and integrated them into the description. But if they don't, that is their prerogative. It just means I have to look a little deeper to glean the information.

+1 I have one cache that has a huge hole in the ground on the way there, several 100 feet from the cache. Never considered the hole a problem till someone tried the cache at night and came too close to the hole and said so in their log. I never had been there at night and never would have gone at night. During the day the hole was almost imposssible to not see, at night another story. I posted a warning for this cache ASAP.

 

Bravo! Someone did something and mentioned and you made sure that it was easily brought to the attention of others (at least those that will read the description). I think this is the kind of thing that should go on. Use and look at attributes and use and look at descriptions and log posts. We don't need to be neurotic about what we're doing, just informed.

 

(Sorry for how long that was :( I'll stop)

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For us to have any notion regarding what might have prevented this incident ...
That shouldn't be the aim. The aim should be to come up with measures that would generalise, that would apply to other scenarios, that would do more than prevent just this specific incident. It's disproportionate to dwell on just one example.

 

Hey, I bet GS are glad they've got the excuse of the winter holiday to let them off any substantial response to the incident. I wonder what's happened to the OP, though?

Just because someone tragically died while searching for a cache it not a reason to impose general measures to try to prevent anyone from having any sort of accident in the future. While there is a tendency in these cases to respond proactively, that often results in unnecessary rules and regulation. For this reason it is impossible to come to a consensus at to what these rules should be.

 

<snip>

I totally agree with you there, but that is precisely what the topic of this thread has been from the very first post. This tragic accident happened, so how can we prevent any more tragic accidents.

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My condolences to the family.

 

Unfortunately, many cachers hide caches without regard for risk management or safety precautions. Geocaching is a voluntary recreational activity and despite that can still lead to tort liability - I am talking about you being personally sued. The legal wrapper by Groundspeak protects them, but does it protect you??? As a hider you have a duty of reasonable care in placing your caches. If you place caches where the consequence of failure or a mishap is likely death, then you could be liable.

 

Before placing a cache think of likely scenarios and eliminate or mitigate risks so that so that the worst that happens is injured pride, not serious bodily harm. Yes, it is all fun and games.... till someone get hurt. Here are a couple of examples that I've personally seen..

Cache 50+ feet up a pine tree, caches on catwalks 80+ feet in the air on state bridges, caches buried a couple hundred feet in sewer/rainwater sewers without regard to dangerous gases and so on...

 

Relying on the terrain and difficulty ratings is pretty thin legal insurance. Someone has to be the adult in these situations and that responsibility only partially belongs to Groundspeak. The largest source of caching responsibility belongs to we cachers. We have to use common sense and don't do dangerous caches, review our concerns with the CO and finally drop a note to Groundspeak if all else fails.

 

Regards,

 

Peoria Bill

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As a Cache Seeker I CHOOSE to pursue a cache.

I AM RESPONSIBLE for the judgement calls I make in so doing.

The ultimate responsibility is MINE if in that pursuit I take some action that gets me hurt (or worse).

It was MY bad decision(s) or MY mistaken action(s) that got me into trouble.

I AM THE ONE PRIMARILY RESPONSIBLE FOR MY OWN SAFETY

Dude! Surely you aren't promoting something as silly as personal accountability as applied to geocaching... Are you? Just wait till the Bubble Wrap Police get hold of you. That's crazy talk, man! :lol:

(See Jes, that's how it's done. Not judgin', just sayin')

 

An interesting sense of humour!

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2. As Cache Seekers ensure that any cache that is found to fall short of those guidelines is brought to the attention of both the owner and our facilitator so that appropriate remedial action can occur.

 

I would like to add that due diligence on the part of the reporter should be taken when reporting caches based on their perceptions of adequate permission given. If you can't say for certain, save Groundspeak the headache and ask a few questions before reporting a cache based on permission. Basically, if you're unwilling to do the footwork then what is your motivation to report a cache based on that criteria....?

 

 

I whole-heartedly agree with that!

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The tragic accident that resulted in Willi's death has been the trigger that prompted a call for more, or a greater facility to, provide warnings on cache pages.

BUT is our current provision for hazard warnings actually deficient?

The fact that a death has occurred during geocaching activity does not automatically mean that it is.

 

This prompts me to examine what facilities we, as geocachers, already have to provide hazard warnings.

 

Cache Owners:

When publishing a cache, Cache Owners (CO's) have the ability to:

 

  • Link to a related web page – Box 6 on "Report A New Cache" page
    so they have an opportunity to provide warnings there.
  • Provide a background image for the cache listing – Box 7 on the "Report A New Cache" page
    so here again it would be possible to incorporate a warning.
  • Identify the level of difficulty involved in pursuing the cache and indicate the nature of the area in which the cache is located with Difficulty / Terrain ratings – just over half-way down the "Report A New Cache" page.
    These provide 92 = 81 possible combinations so gives considerable scope for identifying the nature of the cache and indicating that the cache may have associated hazards and involve special skills or equipment.
    Groundspeak allows for users to decide how they rate a cache and has also provided guidance on how to use these ratings. If that guidance is followed by CO's then Cache Seekers (CS's) have a standard to help them better understand those ratings.
  • Describe the cache and the approach to the cache using either or both of the short description and the long description – two boxes under "Details" about two thirds down the "Report A New Cache" page.
    I believe that these panels provide the best opportunity for an owner to provide specific warning of any particular hazard of which they may be aware.
  • Even the hint facility could be used to provide a warning – "Hints & spoiler info." box that occurs next near the bottom of the "Report A New Cache" page.
    That though, is clearly NOT its intended purpose.
  • Converse with the Groundspeak Reviewer via the "Note to Reviewer" box at the bottom of the "Report A New Cache" page.
  • Additionally:
     
    > There is potential to add warning-type attributes to a cache page.
    Those attributes include several that can be used to warn of hazards.
     
    > Images can be added to the cache page and one or more of these could potentially be used to describe or show a hazard, or provide a hazard warning.
  • Edit their cache page.
    This provides opportunity for a warning to be added in the early part of the cache page at any time after the cache has been published.

Cache Seekers

Any CS who visits a cache may consider that a cache has an un-notified hazard due to either the CO not adequately using their opportunities above to describe some hazard aspect of the cache, or the situation having changed over time so that a new hazard exists since the cache was first published.

 

In either circumstance the CS has opportunity to:

 

  • Include mention of that hazard in their Found It or Did Not Find It log so that it is seen by subsequent readers of the logs.
  • Publish a WriteNote warning in the logs section of the cache page about the hazard so that subsequent CS's get a warning.
  • Publish a NeedsMaintenance warning note in the logs section of the cache page about the hazard so that subsequent CS's get a warning AND the CO gets a direct alert of the percieved problem.
  • Publish a Needs Archiving note in the logs section of the cache page so that CS's are warned and both the CO and Groundspeak officials are alerted to the perceived problem.
    Perhaps that notice could be given a more appropriate name – but that's another issue; and the use suggested here (and elsewhere within the thread) is apparently not quite what this note was originally intended for.
  • Edit any log or note that they themselves have posted.

From consideration of the above I believe that there is:

 

  • Adequate opportunity for the CO to initially describe, or subsequently amend, their cache listing so that any significant hazard(s) associated with a cache is(are) brought to attention in the early part of the cache descripton page.
    For valid warnings to have their greatest effect they need to be easily and quickly accessible.
  • Adequate provision for any CS to highlight a perceived hazard that has apparently not been brought to attention, either as a short-term note that will eventually tend to be lost in a plethora of logs, or as a message of greater force brought more directly to the attention of the CO, and when necessary the CO and Groundspeak officials, so that appropriate action may be taken.
  • No reasonable argument for CS's to have the ability to change any part of the cache page except logs or notes that they have themselves posted.
    Groundspeak makes it quite clear that each cache is the responsibility of its CO. No one other than the CO or Groundspeak should have the power to physically change what the owner has had published. That does not prevent a collective of CS's from "persuading" a CO, through their log postings, that there is a problem that needs rectifying.

Some may argue that this regime allows a warning message posted by a CS to be lost or ignored. I argue that this is as it should be.

 

If only one of several CS's who has visited a cache perceives a problem, then it is likely that the problem exists only for that CS.

 

On the other hand if several CS's remark on a similar problem then the argument that a problem exists becomes more powerful and in consequence is much more likely to result in appropriate remedial action. The greater the collective voice, the greater the power to effect change.

 

For this reason I believe that it becomes the responsibility of each and every CS (YES that includes ME) to use the tools we already have available to us to report a perceived hazard, when such a hazard is noticed. Others following on on have an equal responsibility to provide their own warning when they agree with the first poster. With no others supporting the first it seems right and proper that the matter should simply die.

 

In my view adding alternative warning systems would be unlikely to make a really significant improvement to our present system.

 

However, I do NOT rule out the possibility that the present system may be capable of improvement in some, or even several, way(s).

I sometimes struggled to find the precise information that I needed while researching the current system as I wrote this comment. If others have had a similar problem then perhaps it could be made more user friendly than it is. In particular this would aid the newer members of our fraternity.

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I've read a lot of posts complaining about a perceived intent to restrict cache placement by new guidelines on safety. I think this concern is misplaced for at least two reasons.

 

First, the best suggestion made has been to facilitate user-to-user communication via a safety forum. This would be explicitly for the purpose of educating and helping one another on safety issues, not (at least as I perceive it) to advocate for rules.

 

Second, I find it highly unlikely that GS would implement any safety rules. Ironically, such rules could expose them to more liability. As it stands, GS says that the CO owns the cache and is fully responsible for it. If GS added safety rules, they could be liable for any lapse in the application of those rules.

 

I'vw read a lot of posts about how an alert cacher (often the writer) would have foreseen the danger in this cache. Yet all of these constitute 20/20 hindsight. In fact the CO and thirty-some seekers didn't foresee the danger. These included cachers with a lot of experience.

 

Why the discrepancy? Is it totally being misled by hindsight? That's a strong phenomenon, but it's also true that some people have a much better ability to predict what's up ahead, some naturally, some by training, some both.

 

How do those with that ability share it with others? How do we persuade others to listen, and then what techniques do we use to share those abilities?

 

How do we turn hindsight into foresight? The experience of safety experts says that's a very difficult task.

 

Those complex sorts of questions are why I continue to think Snoogans' proposal is worth a shot. It's a proposal for an open and cooperative system, based on education and sharing rather than on rules and guidelines. Discussion can involve talk about trade-offs: what risks do we take to enjoy life, and why? I've taken many risks, the most serious involving being alone in isolated places. What were the risks? What were the benefits? Benefits can include having fun, better health, less stress, and probably others that I haven't thought of. Discussion safety involves discussing risks, benefits, probabilities, trade-offs, balancing of risks.

 

Safety begins at home. Safety begins with the individual understanding the nature of risks and benefits. Rules don't convey that understanding. Communication is the only way to get there. Communication, personal knowledge, and understanding do help decrease danger while increasing benefits at the same time.

 

Edward

Edited by paleolith

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That shouldn't be the aim.

If your long term goal is to prevent future deaths or significant injury, there are two ways to accomplish this.

1 ) Determine exactly what happened, so that any recommendations will have both validity and merit.

2 ) ignore the facts and spew out generalizations.

One method has proven effective over time at preventing repeats of whatever it was that caused the tragedy. The other method has little effect other than making the masses feel better. Personally, I prefer effectiveness over noise.

 

It's disproportionate to dwell on just one example.

When the incident itself is disproportionate, (such as the only reported death which can be directly attributed to geocaching), it is only natural that any discussions stemming from the incident follow disproportionate paths. If Snoogans' proposal bears fruit, and a Safety Forum is created, that would be a perfect place for generalizations. We can all go there every day and post words to the effect of, "Watch your step", and "Be cautious" to our heart's content, if you honestly believe that posting such things will have any significant impact.

 

The only reason to have started this thread including all the info, was to cause a sensation.

I might agree with this, save for Veit's continued contributions to this thread, combined with his willingness to adjust his beliefs when faced with other viewpoints. Based on these, I believe Viet created this thread out of an honest desire to keep this from happening again. True, his opening post was so laden with emotion that it could almost be considered a seagull interaction, (swoop in, make a bunch of noise, poop over everything, then fly away), but his follow ups demonstrated he is willing to set aside emotion for reason.

 

In another thread, about fake electrical boxes, that nobody has yet died is taken as evidence that there is in fact no problem.

Just to clarify my own posts on that matter: I don't think anyone has argued that a lack of death is proof that no problem exists. Rather, compare what was actually said with the "OMG!" sentiment expresses in the opening post about electrical equipment caches in that thread. In that context, (demonstrating that the issue was not quite as lethal as the OP would have us believe), pointing out that in 11 years of finding hide-a-keys on ground level transformers, not a single death has been reported, is a good argument. Even those who most strongly claim that electric box caches are safe won't go so far as to claim that folks could not be injured by them. Just that the present data indicates that injury is unlikely.

 

In fact the CO and thirty-some seekers didn't foresee the danger.

I think that may be inaccurate. While I can't read the cache owner's mind, I do believe that he did foresee at least the possibility for injury, which was why he mentioned the hole on the cache page and cranked up the terrain rating to a 3.5 level. Again, pure speculation, but if I owned a cache that required climbing a permanently mounted ladder and walking 50 or so feet, if both could be done with no chance of injury, it would barely rate a 1.5 terrain. I can't help but think that the 3.5 terrain was the result of the CO recognizing the likely hazards. Naive? Maybe...

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Coming in late to this but having read through a good chunk of the thread a recurring theme seems to be there.

 

Nobody is forced to attempt a cache. At least one of my local cache setters posts comments on their pages along the lines of "no cache is worth risking your life or health over" and more extreme caches I've seen typically have warnings on the page.

 

Caching at night is inherently more dangerous than caching by day, simply because potential hazards are likely to be less visible. A missing grate, a hole in the ground, even a rabbit hole can be big enough to cause someone to fall and potentially break a leg. I nearly broke my leg when I missed my footing on a patch of loose rocks on the ground and went down - I still don't know how I freed my leg so it didn't give under my weight as I fell sideways.

 

Each of us has our own levels of expertise, our own levels of risk-aversion and our own levels of skill. As an overweight cacher I don't tend to do caches that involve climbing trees or crawling through tight spaces. If we get to a cache we have to make our own judgment call whether retrieving it is within our own abilities, whether it's a film pot on the back of a road sign or at the top of a 100-foot tree.

 

It's easy to focus on hazards associated with what might be called high-profile risks (people falling, being run over etc) but less apparent risks can be just as dangerous. Finding a film pot in a nook in a wall on a paved street could turn nasty if a drug user had dumped a used needle in the hole, ticks are a well known hazard associated with walking along flat ground with long grass, and the unwary could lose an eye if they bend to retrieve a cache and don't notice a branch coming at them.

 

The argument to "use common sense" may appear to blame the victim with the implication that they somehow lacked common sense, or at least failed to use it. The equally valid argument "accidents happen" simply highlights the fact that even if we believe something is within our abilities we may be wrong, or something specific might happen that changes everything very fast.

 

While in this case the outcome was clearly a tragedy, it is hard to see how denying other people the right to make their own judgment call as a response helps anybody. Otherwise before long any cache more dangerous than a film pot on the back of a road sign will be prohibited and even those will start to disappear if anyone scratches themselves on the back of a rusty sign and contracts tetanus as a result.

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Groundspeak: PROBABLY nothing.

people need to exercise common sense.

 

I would reword your second sentence to "Cache owners need to exercise common sense."

Because of the lack of foresight and negligence a cache owner cost the live of another cacher so who is at fault here? The victim?

Cache owners need to be held accountable for the outcome of their caches. It's their private property and if something happens while on their property they are liable. No difference here.

This unnecessary death would've not occurred if the cache owner stopped for a second and realized that "you know what? That place can be dangerous and if someone makes a mistake can get seriously hurt!". Simple as that.

Geocaching is not an extreme sport nor should it be. If people seek those thrills they should look elsewhere because usually for that theres security and things are planned so nothing goes wrong.

No such thing in geocaching. You cant control what people will do and what will happen to people when attempting to get the cache.

Yes people should use common sense but accidents do happen.

So in this case we have a family that has been destroyed, GS washes their hands behind their no liability disclaimer and the cache owner archived the cache as to say I had nothing to do with it and here in this thread we have people blaming the victim for getting killed.

Everythings perfect nothing to see here lets move on... :sad:

 

Actually, technically, by your argument, the cache owner is not at fault, since the kid who died wasn't *on* the cache, but on a bridge owned by either a company or a government.

 

Also, I can easily argue that if the victim had looked at the bridge and said "woah, that looks dangerous! I better not go up there" he'd still be alive.

 

I *could* trip over a root and break my neck going for a cache stuck in the hollow of a tree. Does that make it the CO's fault?

 

I'm not blaming the victim here. It's terribly sad what happened. But sometimes bad things happen to good people. It's just the way the universe works. And really, at least he died doing something he loved.

 

Edit: I'm going to play Devil's Advocate for a moment. Flagging certain caches as particularly dangerous may draw people to them, increasing the number of accidents. It certainly opens up Groundspeak to all kinds of liability.

Edited by TheFlatline

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I am not trash talking anyone here, nor am I attempting to derail the thread.

 

I have been perplexed over the amount of commentary on this unfortunate accident versus the unfortunate accident west of Spokane, Washington last year or the year before where a gentleman went over a cliff during a cache hunt and was killed.

 

Is the relative difference due to a heightened awareness of safety concerns or does a youth have greater import than an older cacher.

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I am not trash talking anyone here, nor am I attempting to derail the thread.

 

I have been perplexed over the amount of commentary on this unfortunate accident versus the unfortunate accident west of Spokane, Washington last year or the year before where a gentleman went over a cliff during a cache hunt and was killed.

 

Is the relative difference due to a heightened awareness of safety concerns or does a youth have greater import than an older cacher.

I think one difference is that this was posted in a world wide forum, the Spokane incident you refer to was in a regional forum, wasn't it? That would change the dynamics of the audience.

 

I bet you if it was posted in the German forum you would not have seen anywhere near the dialog as this got.

 

But I did think of the Spokane cacher right away, but there was never a cry for what needs to change, just passed on the information asked folks to be careful.

Edited by jholly

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I am not trash talking anyone here, nor am I attempting to derail the thread.

 

I have been perplexed over the amount of commentary on this unfortunate accident versus the unfortunate accident west of Spokane, Washington last year or the year before where a gentleman went over a cliff during a cache hunt and was killed.

 

Is the relative difference due to a heightened awareness of safety concerns or does a youth have greater import than an older cacher.

 

Emotional OP + Big Ego pimping his new job title. Both eliciting responses + counter-responses = many pages of going in circles.

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I'm happy to say that I've never responded to a thread about safety by saying, "Well duh, you should know better."

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I'm happy to say that I've never responded to a thread about safety by saying, "Well duh, you should know better."

 

+1 Some of the above posts make me feel sick.

 

When you're looking for a cache on the side of a mountain or up a tree, the danger is obvious. When you look for a cache hidden on a foot-bridge, you don't expect there to be a hole in the floor right near the cache. This is the part I think alot of people are outraged about, that the CO didn't have a huge warning on the cache page about the hole and why choose to put the cache there in the first place. (Yes, I know the public was not supposed to go there, but really, how many times do you walk across a bridge and there is a hole in the floor?)

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Wow. Something must have happened in Off Topic. Did the basement flood or something?

 

Is the relative difference due to a heightened awareness of safety concerns or does a youth have greater import than an older cacher.

Beside the original poster advocating for preventative measures, there is an obvious difference in the types of locations. One was open to the public and one should have raised enough flags to have prevented it from being published.

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When you look for a cache hidden on a foot-bridge, you don't expect there to be a hole in the floor right near the cache. This is the part I think alot of people are outraged about, that the CO didn't have a huge warning on the cache page about the hole and why choose to put the cache there in the first place. (Yes, I know the public was not supposed to go there, but really, how many times do you walk across a bridge and there is a hole in the floor?)

 

This wasn't a foot bridge. It was an off limits catwalk. And we still don't know (and likely will never know) where/how the cacher fell.

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When you're looking for a cache on the side of a mountain or up a tree, the danger is obvious.

And the danger wasn't obvious with that structure? Really? I know that this is a game that is free for everyone, genius and obliviot alike, (it's the only reason I was allowed in), but I can't quite wrap my head around your implied theory that there could be someone dumb enough not to recognize the inherent dangers in that site, yet smart enough to know how to turn on a GPSr.

 

To begin, it is a utilities structure closed to the public. That much is obvious at a glance. Those who are not bright enough to figure that out from afar, would certainly realize it when they had to go through an access portal. Areas that are off limits to all but trained and qualified personnel often have hazards which the clueless public would not know about. When you enter such places, you should do so with due care.

 

The structure is elevated. As an old, crippled fat guy, I know first hand the effects of gravity on a given mass. I suspect that most people do. If this were 5' off the ground, then I might understand folks accessing the structure without consciously sensing the danger. But that thing looked to be over 20' high. While a stuntman could make a 20' drop (onto a stable, flat surface), with little difficulty, as could anyone who made it through Airborne training, a 20' fall is pretty dangerous to most folks. Typically not fatal, but usually resulting in significant injury. When you find yourself 20' above the ground, you should proceed with due care.

 

The area under the structure is not stable or flat. It is a shallow, boulder strewn creek. Having been trained in how to fall, (think PLF), I wouldn't feel comfortable making a 10' drop onto that area. You would have to threaten me with dire consequences up to and including carnal knowledge with Rosie O'Donnell, to make me drop 20' onto it. When you are above such an area, you should proceed with due care.

 

That evaluation is just about the structure itself, under perfect conditions.

If you elect to go anywhere, in less than perfect conditions, your personal risk increases.

 

It was night time. Our eyes are designed for diurnal vision. At some point in our past, it became important to us as a species to have the ability to move about at night. This need birthed portable, artificial light. But even with the best flashlight, once the sun sets, the degree of hazard goes up. When you walk about at night, even if it's just a stroll down a sidewalk, you should do so with due care.

 

It was near freezing. The temperature was somewhere around 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Our bodies are designed for optimal performance in a temperature range of 75 to 85 degrees. By inventing clothing, we have been able to extend our performance through much lower temperatures, though we increase our personal risks in doing so. Even with high end cold weather clothing, when we are in an environment with an ambient temperature between 30 and 40 degrees, we lose fine motor skills. When you are cold, you should proceed with due care.

 

These are just the dangers that would be immediately obvious to anyone approaching the area the night he fell. If we assume that he did not bother to read the cache page before setting out, (something I don't really believe), and further assume that once he got there, and these hazards were presented to him, he still refused to read the cache page, (something I absolutely do not believe), there was still a whole host of crystal clear warning signs there for all to see.

 

If he did read the cache page, he would have had even more warnings, to include the mention of the hole in the hint, the high terrain rating, and the two logs which specifically mentioned almost falling through the hole. When your ambulation is utterly dependent upon placing your forward moving foot onto a platform which can support your weight, and you are inside a complex utility structure, elevated 20', over a shallow, rocky stream, in almost freezing conditions, when your vision is greatly reduced, you should proceed with due care.

 

Saying there were no clear warnings is patently false.

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The accident was entirely the fault of the cacher that died.

 

However, that doesn't mean that there isn't some way it could have been prevented. The cache should have never been published to begin with. If there were additional warnings, he may, or may not have died.

 

I think it would be unfair to shrug shoulders and continue on as if everything was fine, if there was some way it could have been prevented. Being proactive in attempting to prevent such incidents does not necessarily imply guilt.

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The cache should have never been published to begin with.

Agreed.

 

I think it would be unfair to shrug shoulders and continue on as if everything was fine...

Agreed.

 

Being proactive in attempting to prevent such incidents does not necessarily imply guilt.

The civil courts don't necessarily view things through such a logical perspective. We've all seen how asinine some lawsuits can be. In this country, at least, being stupid can win you tons of cash. Because our civil system is so twisted, if Groundspeak were to publicly acknowledge that some specific caches contained specific hazards, they could open themselves up to liability for every cache that doesn't carry such a warning. That's why I prefer the user created warning log type that was suggested early on, over any kind of potential warning posted by Groundspeak. Though even that could lead to legal complications, if a hazard is not listed by the owner.

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Being proactive in attempting to prevent such incidents does not necessarily imply guilt.

Because our civil system is so twisted, if Groundspeak were to publicly acknowledge that some specific caches contained specific hazards, they could open themselves up to liability for every cache that doesn't carry such a warning.

Really? If you have anything that supports such an assertion, then I hope you'll post a link or a citation.

 

I notice you've included some hazard attributes and warning text in several of your caches. If you really believe that acknowledging some of your specific caches contain specific hazards opens yourself up to liability for every cache of yours that doesn't carry such warnings, then I applaud your humanitarianism in the face of such legal risks.

Edited by CanadianRockies

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I can agree that, adding a warning type log would be of little use for my caches, as I would add it to every cache I owned, and every event I hosted, for a bit of proactive liability protection.

So, adding warnings provides a bit of proactive liability protection.

 

Because our civil system is so twisted, if Groundspeak were to publicly acknowledge that some specific caches contained specific hazards, they could open themselves up to liability for every cache that doesn't carry such a warning.

So, adding warnings increases your liability.

 

I guess I'm confused.

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I can agree that, adding a warning type log would be of little use for my caches, as I would add it to every cache I owned, and every event I hosted, for a bit of proactive liability protection.

So, adding warnings provides a bit of proactive liability protection.

 

Because our civil system is so twisted, if Groundspeak were to publicly acknowledge that some specific caches contained specific hazards, they could open themselves up to liability for every cache that doesn't carry such a warning.

So, adding warnings increases your liability.

 

I guess I'm confused.

I get where Riff is coming from... I don't see a contradiction. Warning logs may not be the way to go from a civil liability standpoint. I can't say for sure. I am not a lawyer.

 

However, it just makes good sense to address caching safety proactively, to raise awareness, in one form or another.

 

If you can't do it on the cache page then it should be done elsewhere.

 

Groundspeak is the 800 pound gorilla of cache listing sites, but they don't regulate caching activity beyond a brief set of listing requirements.

 

I agree that geocaching would be less fun (for me) if it were a more widely regulated activity as it is by some city governments. (permit fees and such)

 

As we march toward the Mainstream Event Horizon with more and more caches being listed and more new cachers coming into the game there will be greater frequency of at risk behaviors that could lead to serious injuries and the occasional death. Heinrich's Law applied.

 

As the #1 facilitator of geocaching worldwide, I believe at some point Groundspeak will also facilitate caching smarter and safer through their various media accounts (twitter, fb, etc.), their weekly newsletter, educating cachers how to better follow the guidelines and to report guideline violations, a caching safety discussion forum, and possibly encouraging event hosts to touch upon the topic of caching safety and/or how to follow the cache listing guidelines at events. Maybe even encouraging local/regional forum masters and geobloggers to do the same.

 

Participation would be voluntary and if it saved just one life it would be worth it. What could it hurt? :unsure:

 

I believe all of these actions would reduce liability and improve our image in light of the most recent and very preventable death. It would certainly look better in court than swim at your own risk.

 

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I cant help but think of GS's lawyers are reading this and trying all their power to protect GS's interests.

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I would like to be able to clearly mark my caches with green, blue, red or black. Colors indicating the danger around finding the cache.

 

As you do in skiing and hiking.

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I would like to be able to clearly mark my caches with green, blue, red or black. Colors indicating the danger around finding the cache.

 

As you do in skiing and hiking.

I am a skier and I got the color code.

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As we march toward the Mainstream Event Horizon with more and more caches being listed and more new cachers coming into the game there will be greater frequency of at risk behaviors that could lead to serious injuries and the occasional death. Heinrich's Law applied.

 

You keep saying "Heinrich's Law applied."

 

I'm no expert, so maybe I am missing something.

 

Heinrich's Law: that in a workplace, for every accident that causes a major injury, there are 29 accidents that cause minor injuries and 300 accidents that cause no injuries.

 

How does this apply in the paragraph of yours I quote above?

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I would like to be able to clearly mark my caches with green, blue, red or black. Colors indicating the danger around finding the cache.

 

As you do in skiing and hiking.

 

I've seen a 4WD map done like that. I have a cache in the Sierras that has a black diamond at the bottom of the grade leading to it and 2 black diamonds at the top, above 10,000 feet, near where the cache is.

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I can agree that, adding a warning type log would be of little use for my caches, as I would add it to every cache I owned, and every event I hosted, for a bit of proactive liability protection.

So, adding warnings provides a bit of proactive liability protection.

 

Because our civil system is so twisted, if Groundspeak were to publicly acknowledge that some specific caches contained specific hazards, they could open themselves up to liability for every cache that doesn't carry such a warning.

So, adding warnings increases your liability.

 

I guess I'm confused.

I get where Riff is coming from... I don't see a contradiction. Warning logs may not be the way to go from a civil liability standpoint. I can't say for sure. I am not a lawyer.

The contradiction that I see is when Clan Riffster asserts that adding warnings both decreases and increases liability. If he's going to makes such claims, it would be nice if he offered some sort of support to document them.

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I would like to be able to clearly mark my caches with green, blue, red or black. Colors indicating the danger around finding the cache.

 

As you do in skiing and hiking.

 

Or, maybe soemthing like little pictures, or icons that indicate there is a dangerous area (skull and cross bones maybe). And a picture of a snake meaning there may be snakes present. Ooo Ooo Ooo or a deer with crosshairs indicating there is hunting allowed. I bet we could come up with a bunch of things like that.

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I would like to be able to clearly mark my caches with green, blue, red or black. Colors indicating the danger around finding the cache.

 

As you do in skiing and hiking.

 

I've seen a 4WD map done like that. I have a cache in the Sierras that has a black diamond at the bottom of the grade leading to it and 2 black diamonds at the top, above 10,000 feet, near where the cache is.

The problem is, those rating system are set by professionals...if every caches was rate by professionals, the fizzy will be really easy to finish. I see too many caches that are under rated because the CO doesnt want people to get a "free" pass of a high rating cache.

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As we march toward the Mainstream Event Horizon with more and more caches being listed and more new cachers coming into the game there will be greater frequency of at risk behaviors that could lead to serious injuries and the occasional death. Heinrich's Law applied.

 

You keep saying "Heinrich's Law applied."

 

I'm no expert, so maybe I am missing something.

 

Heinrich's Law: that in a workplace, for every accident that causes a major injury, there are 29 accidents that cause minor injuries and 300 accidents that cause no injuries.

 

How does this apply in the paragraph of yours I quote above?

 

You're taking it too literally. At risk behavior is almost always the issue that leads to all accidents workplace or otherwise.

 

More cachers = more potential at risk behaviors, etc.

 

We have had massive growth since the 1 million cache mark. I believe Heinrich's law applies just by the fact that we have had 2 deaths just 5 months apart. That has never happened before. If I'm right, (and this time I really hope I'm not) there is an increased possibility for another death in the next 6 to 12 months if not more than one.

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What a terrible accident. My sincere sympathy goes out to this young man's family and friends and to the Geocaching Community in Germany.

 

I will admit I have not read this entire thread, but I did read the first five pages and no one at that point mentioned the reviewer. If this cache was in an obvious place that was not open for public access why did the reviewer allow the cache to be published in the first place.

 

I understand that in Germany the law is different. We lived there for about 10 years and one of the things I most enjoyed was knowing I was responsible for my own actions and not subject to rules because someone might stub a toe. However if the hide was on a structure not open for public access it should never have been published. I am not trying to place blame on the reviewer. I would suggest clearer guidelines for all countries for what is considered an acceptable place to hide a cache.

 

For instance here in the US we cannot place a cache within 150 feet of any rail road track becasue the tracks are not public proerty they are owned by the railroad along with a conveyance, we cannot place a cache on private property without the property owner's permission and we cannot place a cache on any bridge on an interstate highway (like the autobahn) because it may be thought to be a bomb by someone who has no knowledge of Geocaching. Although bridges on back roads and covered bridges are fine.

 

I think one solution to make geocaching safer is for the reviewers to have clear guidelines and know what is an allowable hide in their country. It is clear that this hide was not on public property.

 

What a tragedy, I couldn't even imagine losing my son.

Edited by Team Red Oak

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I would like to be able to clearly mark my caches with green, blue, red or black. Colors indicating the danger around finding the cache.

 

As you do in skiing and hiking.

 

I've seen a 4WD map done like that. I have a cache in the Sierras that has a black diamond at the bottom of the grade leading to it and 2 black diamonds at the top, above 10,000 feet, near where the cache is.

The problem is, those rating system are set by professionals...if every caches was rate by professionals, the fizzy will be really easy to finish. I see too many caches that are under rated because the CO doesnt want people to get a "free" pass of a high rating cache.

 

Funny. I over rate the D/T on a few of my caches just so the folks who cache willy nilly don't get themselves hurt or killed doing them thinking they are well within their limited planning to get to them.

 

Many of my 5/5 caches are just that right now, but for a couple months during the summer they are far less challenging on difficulty if not terrain.

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Just spent the last hour and half reading the entire thread (wow some typical forum drama and some real good reading too). Way tragic when any young man looses a life, tragic to family, friends and of course the person. I feel sorry for all!

 

Groundspeak is the 800 pound gorilla of cache listing sites, but they don't regulate caching activity beyond a brief set of listing requirements.

 

I have said it several times on the forums here, geocaching is a real fragile game. No warning or claims to just being anything can stop a talented lawyer with the right courtroom. Disclaimers are mostly meaningless. They are helpful for negating "gross negligence" for sure, but never do they determine guilt or innocence. Many times they are simply designed to scare people from suing. Page after page I turned in this thread and was not surprised at all that GS officially made no response. I do not believe that to be a coincidence. Reviewers can say they just publish listings, GS can say they just list listings but that does not absolve them of anything. Everyone of us who list a cache equally take the same chance of being sued. Nothing we can do about it.

 

I have some caches placed in what I feel is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Also the area is dangerous. I have warnings on them, I have what I feel are the right attributes and the right terrain ratings. Big deal, some lawyer could easily still sue. I even say, "you fall - you die" plan and simple. http://coord.info/GC29ARJ

 

If I was the CO of the cache in discussion I would have concern.

 

That said, what can we do to make things safer. I do not think we can do anything beyond not placing a cache at all. Simple and to the point. All the tools are already in place to make this a very safe game and all the proper warnings are given. Just open the android phone app and read what it says in bold letters.

 

Am I all wet or what?

Edited by Frank Broughton

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As we march toward the Mainstream Event Horizon with more and more caches being listed and more new cachers coming into the game there will be greater frequency of at risk behaviors that could lead to serious injuries and the occasional death. Heinrich's Law applied.

 

You keep saying "Heinrich's Law applied."

 

I'm no expert, so maybe I am missing something.

 

Heinrich's Law: that in a workplace, for every accident that causes a major injury, there are 29 accidents that cause minor injuries and 300 accidents that cause no injuries.

 

How does this apply in the paragraph of yours I quote above?

 

You're taking it too literally. At risk behavior is almost always the issue that leads to all accidents workplace or otherwise.

 

More cachers = more potential at risk behaviors, etc.

 

We have had massive growth since the 1 million cache mark. I believe Heinrich's law applies just by the fact that we have had 2 deaths just 5 months apart. That has never happened before. If I'm right, (and this time I really hope I'm not) there is an increased possibility for another death in the next 6 to 12 months if not more than one.

 

Heinrich's Law seems to apply to distribution of accident types (serious injury or death / moderate injury / minor injury). Not numbers of events, and surely not to the number of people in the sample size (if I read it right).

 

Having more people taking part in an activity, and doing it more often, you will by that very nature have more incidents. However, you need to look at something like "incidents per person caching hour". As I said in a earlier post, the rate of major incidents per cache (3 for the first 1M caches and 2 for the next 600K caches) shows the rate as stable (1 / ~300K caches). If you were to factor in the number of caching hours, the rate is probably dropping.

 

[edit for typos]

Edited by BBWolf+3Pigs

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