It’s almost that time of year—Halloween! Season staples like pumpkin carving, costumes, trick-or-treating, and haunted houses are common family traditions. While these activities are designed to be fun, some hidden dangers are involved—especially with haunted houses. Lack of understanding about these potential dangers can create risky situations for those who run these attractions. This blog will outline the factors that impact haunted house safety and ways to mitigate the risks.
3 factors that impact haunted house safety
While there are risks with any event, haunted houses pose some unique challenges. Not factoring in these challenges when planning your experiences can lead to consequences like guest injuries and potentially fire. And while a fire would be terrible in any situation, the possibility of more severe injuries is higher in a haunted house.
Also read: Specialty Insurance Basics for the Amusement Industry
Safety at haunted houses can be trickier because of three main factors:
Haunted houses typically take place in the dark. Lack of visibility can make it difficult for guests to find their way out in an emergency. Most haunted attractions have strobe lights, mirrors, flashing lights, and loud noises. Because haunted houses often use effects like these to up the scare factor, the environment can become disorienting.
Haunted houses are generally only open for a short time, so it can be harder to find qualified staff. Like carnivals and fairs, owners often rely on part-time help who haven’t had much experience with emergencies or safety training. Additionally, the energy is often contagious, which may cause inexperienced staff to lose focus on the safety component.
Haunted houses attract large crowds with many people on site at once. Large numbers of attendees and elevated endorphins can be problematic in an emergency. People may panic if a fire breaks out, making an orderly evacuation difficult and potentially causing injuries.
Ensuring safety in haunted houses can be challenging, but it’s not impossible! Keep reading to learn how to mitigate the risks.
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- Create a safety plan — Planning is key to a successful event. Many areas even require haunted houses to have a public safety plan on file before they can operate. Designate emergency routes, have contact info for local authorities on file, and document who is responsible for what activities. This may include staff ushering guests in an emergency to ensure a quick exit. Communicate and train staff on this plan and revise it if needed as new issues arise.
- Hire the right staff members and train them thoroughly — A younger crowd most frequents haunted houses, and lack of appropriate behavior can sometimes be an issue. Consider hiring security for your event to ensure pranks and other unsafe behavior is kept at bay. A haunted house in Kentucky even banned unaccompanied minors and hired off-duty police officers to monitor the event. Make sure every staff member is up to speed on the safety plan, and communicate the importance of safety early and often.
- Get insurance — No matter how complete your haunted house safety plan or how well you train staff, you can’t control everything. Other than the risk of fire, simple trips and falls are another hazard to be aware of. An insurance policy to protect yourself in case something (big or small) happens is a must.
Also read: Slip, Trip, and Fall Claims
McGowan Allied Specialty Insurance offers Special Event Insurance that includes short-term or annual coverage for event organizers, promotors, or exhibitors. You can receive an immediate quote online or schedule a time to discuss your situation with an agent. The McGowan Allied team has more than 35 years of in-depth industry exposure and is ready to tailor coverage to your specific business needs.