What is urban exploring, you ask?
Urban exploration is the act of exploring the modern ruins and off limit places all around us. Some things of interest to urban explorers are steam tunnels, abandoned asylums, ex-military bases, and anything else interesting and off limits. Be warned: trespassing is illegal, and exploring can sometimes be dangerous. That said, it's still a very fun hobby.
Each person has there own ethical opinions. However, one thing true urban explorers don't do is vandalize. People who do this not only give explorers a bad rap, they also make it more difficult for others. Tagging, and breaking things only helps a place decay faster and gives us all less to enjoy and less time to do so. Keep, this in mind and show some respect when traipsing through the hallways of history.
What do I need to go urban exploring?
1) First off, a good flashlight. Not only will not having one hinder your ability to see cool things around you, it will also greatly lower your ability to see potentially dangerous obstacles. Remember the places urban explorers go are not maintained for the general public, or at all for that matter. It's not uncommon to see collapsing ceilings or floors, holes in the walkway, cliffs in tunnels, or a countless array of dangers. Bringing a bright flashlight is even better. You can always dim it down by covering it with you shirt if you need to avoid attention. Also something small, that can fit in your pocket is desirable. This way if you have to depart hastily, you can hide your light quickly, to avoid looking out of place.
These days LED lights are your best bet. They are cheap, bright and small. They usually take standard batteries that will last a long time, as LEDs use little power. Avoid large Mag lights as they can weight you down and be cumbersome to maneuver with.
2) Bring a toxic dust mask or even better, a respirator. Dust masks will not help with asbestos. That is because asbestos fibers are so small they go through these cheaper masks. Home Depot sells an asbestos-rated one for about $30 USD. If you are concerned about asbestos, make sure the one you buy says "asbestos" on it. The US center for disease control recommends a NIOSH rating of P100 or better. You will also want a mask because lead paint, mold, and excessive dust may and be present.
3) Gloves, definitely bring gloves. Many explorers encounter times when they need to climb a rusted ladder, lean on an old pipe for balance, or even crawl hands and knees on the floor. You wouldn't want any funky bacteria forming a culture under your nails now, would you? Here is the item to be cheap about though. The gloves are going to get real dirty and maybe even ripped so just buy an inexpensive pair.
4) Good cheap shoes/boots. Again buy 'em cheap because they're going to get trashed anyway. Many tunnels and abandoned places will have puddles of water sometimes thick enough to canoe down, so any waterproofing would be an asset. Also slip resistance is a real plus, too. Payless usually has good deals on this kind of stuff.
5) Don't forget the camera. You never know when that perfect Kodak moment will spring forth. If you are going to use a point and shoot camera make sure you have one with manual controls for shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. This is because flash not only wont help much, but will also make the photos in a UE environment look flat.
Please note that I am not a lawyer and this is in no way legal advice. This is my take on the law from my experiences and research. Each states laws vary, but many are similar. Being this is LONG ISLAND ODDITIES, I will talk about the laws of the fine state of New York. Should you find yourself in legal trouble, hire a competent attorney.
Under NY penal code charges related to urban exploring are in article 140, which deals with trespassing. Charges fall into three categories, which are violations, misdemeanors, and felonies. Violations are the most miner and are similar to a parking ticket. Misdemeanors are more serious and can result in jail time. Usually a fine, community service, or probation is the result if convicted. Felonies are the most serious and can wind you in jail and/or with a stiff fine. Also with felonies you lose basic rights, such as the right to vote or hold public office.
Section 140.00 Criminal trespass and burglary; definitions of terms.
S 140.05 Trespass.
A person is guilty of trespass when he knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in or upon premises. Trespass is a violation. This means that though you weren't supposed to be there, no fence or structure was there to keep you out.
S 140.10 Criminal trespass in the third degree.
A person is guilty of criminal trespass in the third degree when he knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a building or upon real property which is fenced or otherwise enclosed in a manner designed to exclude intruders. This can include a building with an open door and a no trespassing sign. Criminal trespass in the third degree is a class B misdemeanor.
S 140.15 Criminal trespass in the second degree.
A person is guilty of criminal trespass in the second degree when he knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a dwelling. This one doesn't usually apply to urban explorers.
S 140.17 Criminal trespass in the first degree.
A person is guilty of criminal trespass in the first degree when he
knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a building, and when, in the
course of committing such crime, he:
1. Possesses, or knows that another participant in the crime possesses, an explosive or a deadly weapon; or
2. Possesses a firearm, rifle or shotgun, as those terms are defined in section 265.00, and also possesses or has readily accessible a quantity of ammunition which is capable of being discharged from such firearm, rifle or shotgun; or
3. Knows that another participant in the crime possesses a firearm, rifle or shotgun under circumstances described in subdivision two. Criminal trespass in the first degree is a class D felony. Just don't bring weapons, that can make a bad situation worse.
S 140.20 Burglary in the third degree.
A person is guilty of burglary in the third degree when he knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a building with intent to commit a crime therein. Burglary in the third degree is a class D felony. Most people think that in order to be charged with this you need to be stealing something. This isn't true, for instance: Suppose someone trespasses and destroys property while inside. That would open the possibility for a burglary felony.
S 140.35 Possession of burglar`s tools.
A person is guilty of possession of burglar`s tools when he possesses any tool, instrument or other article adapted, designed or commonly used for committing or facilitating offenses involving forcible entry into premises, or offenses involving larceny by a physical taking, or offenses involving theft of services as defined in subdivisions four, five and six of section 165.15, under circumstances evincing an intent to use or knowledge that some person intends to use the same in the commission of an offense of such character. Possession of burglar`s tools is a class A misdemeanor.
S 140.40 Unlawful possession of radio devices.
As used in this section, the term "radio device" means any device capable of receiving a wireless voice transmission on any frequency allocated for police use, or any device capable of transmitting and receiving a wireless voice transmission. A person is guilty of unlawful possession of a radio device when he possesses a radio device with the intent to use that device in the commission of robbery, burglary, larceny, gambling or a violation of any provision of article two hundred twenty of the penal law.
If caught and charged usually through plea bargaining charges can be greatly reduced or dismissed. For this to happen you really should have a lawyer.