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This topic has come up every year when someone's haunt gets shut down and a reminder warning was brought up at the last Colorado gathering. Since we have a new influx of members it's time to get y'all thinking about safety.

In Fort Collins, Colorado, ALL haunted houses are required to obtain a permit and pass a fire inspection. It doesn't matter if you are charging admission or not the rules must be followed. Now, there is no distinction between a "haunted house" and a "yard haunt" on the government website but the rumor at the Colorado gathering was that yard haunts also had to follow the same rules.

Here's what the haunters in Fort Collins have to do:
1. All haunted houses must conform to the Uniform Building Code for temporary buildings or structures.
2. No fire protection systems (alarms or sprinklers) in any building shall be obstructed by the construction of this haunted house.
3. “NO SMOKING” signs must be posted at the entrance.
4. There shall be trained staff members with flashlights available at all times. These staff members must know the interior maze, exit facilities, and enforce “no smoking” restrictions within the area.
5. No readily combustible material can be used for construction or decoration in the haunted house unless it is treated with a flame-retardant chemical. NO BLACK PLASTIC IS ALLOWED.
6. All electrical wiring must conform to the National Electrical Code for temporary installations.
7. Fire extinguishers of at least a 2A rating must be placed every 75 feet of travel distance. The trained staff must know where they are and how to use them.
8. Customers may be required to be escorted through the haunted houses by haunted house staff, i.e. 10 in/10 out.
9. Additional single station smoke detectors may be required by the Fire Marshal.
An on-site consultation and inspection of the area to be utilized as a “haunted house”

What sort of rules do you have to follow in your city?

Another huge WTH was that home haunts and pro haunts had to carry additional insurance (home owners insurance wasn't enough). I haven't found anything online yet to back this up. Apparently the fraternities and sororities may have been playing fast and loose with public safety (rumor) and the city government decided to drop the hammer before anyone got hurt.

Revenant mentioned fire inspections and black plastic on Hauntcast a few shows back. It was an important warning. Did you know that fabric/plastic that has been treated with a fire retardant has a shelf life of a YEAR??? That's right. One year, one season. That means there could be haunts out there that will not pass a fire inspection due to 366 day old material.

If you are doing a walk though or haunted house it is up to you to make sure that your structure passes codes. All it takes is one neighbor or one rival haunt to make a call to the fire department and get you shut down.

Take a few moments, do the research and protect yourself and your hobby/passion/addiction.
 

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Good advice.

This is one of the main reasons I don't do a walk-through haunted house anymore, it has become WAY too big of a risk - the liability is through the roof!

If someone trips and falls down my basement stairs, I don't feel like getting sued and LOSING my house because of it!

Nicest part about doing a yard/garage haunt is that you don't require any kind of permits to have someone walk up your driveway to get candy.

As long as it's not a "true" haunted house in the traditional sense (maze of hallways, etc) in your garage, I doubt you will need any special permits.

People basically just walk in, look around, say "wow" a lot, then take candy and leave.

Nice and simple. :ninja:
 

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Fortunately for us, the lawn display is not considered an Attraction per se.

I have however done the local grade school's "Haunted Gym" fundraiser last year and this year. I decided to work closely with the local fire inspector to stick to the rules as close as possible (Save Headaches). They allowed us to use 4 Mil plastic for the walls as it met their fire resistance spec's (We had to test it with the fire department and provide MSDS info). I did the maze design with with the rules in mind and things worked out great. We opened with 0 fire code violations as opposed to the 58 they had the last time the attraction was run (5 years ago).

Couple of Indiana rules:

1) Guides - over 18 and equipped with flashlights
2) Exits - every room must have an emergency exit and hallways must lead to a room equipped with emergency exits.
3) Overhead sprinklers and fire alarms - All rooms must be equipped with both (Gym already had them in place, just couldn't put a roof on the whole thing)
4) Fire resistant material. 4 Mil Visqueen type building sheet material met minimum standards for fire resistance.
5) All outlets must be attached to GCFI.

I had to provide a copy of plans of the attraction indicating the locations of exits, outlets and fire extinguishers. There was an inspection of the whole attraction one hour before opening with all lighting and props active. I also joined with the local fire department's food drive charity and got a couple of firefighters to hang around for the nights in question which made things easier. The inspectior even offered to allow us to use fog machines if we wanted. I didn't last year but I ordered a gallon of fast dissapating fluid from Gorey Minion and I think we are going to give it a shot this year.

RandalB
 

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It's kind of funny/scary how I went all those years with a full walk-through haunted house in the basement of my parents house without even thinking about all the potential rules I was breaking.

I mean, we always made sure safety was the #1 priority. We would keep a fire extinguisher or two on hand, post lots of safety rules, have actors posted all through-out the haunt with flashlights just in case, I would even follow EVERY SINGLE group through to keep an eye on things (in costume of course) with only 1 group of 4-5 people allowed in at a time, PERIOD.

I suppose we must have been lucky NOT to have been inspected. Maybe because we were raising money for crime stoppers, nobody wanted to complain (good cause, plus run by cops).

Come to think about it though, it was awfully dark in the haunt... no way of turning on emergency lights and if you don't know where you are it would take a few extra seconds to get to the exit.

All the more reason I dont want to take on that headache at my own house.

Now that i'm a home-owner myself, I think "wow, my mom was NUTS to let us do this in her house and take on the risk"

I find that, if you want to truly go pro, there are too many hoops to jump through and there simply isn't enough money to be made in haunted houses to justify the cost it would take to run (and I HATE haunted houses that charge UN-GODLY amounts like $15-$20 person) when you consider that you're only IN there maybe 10 minutes (if that).

Besides, the main reason I would want to build a haunt in the first place is for FUN, not as a business venture.

Ah well, good thing I took LOTS of pictures. :p
 

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It's kind of funny/scary how I went all those years with a full walk-through haunted house in the basement of my parents house without even thinking about all the potential rules I was breaking.

I mean, we always made sure safety was the #1 priority. We would keep a fire extinguisher or two on hand, post lots of safety rules, have actors posted all through-out the haunt with flashlights just in case, I would even follow EVERY SINGLE group through to keep an eye on things (in costume of course) with only 1 group of 4-5 people allowed in at a time, PERIOD.

I suppose we must have been lucky NOT to have been inspected. Maybe because we were raising money for crime stoppers, nobody wanted to complain (good cause, plus run by cops).

Come to think about it though, it was awfully dark in the haunt... no way of turning on emergency lights and if you don't know where you are it would take a few extra seconds to get to the exit.

All the more reason I dont want to take on that headache at my own house.

Now that i'm a home-owner myself, I think "wow, my mom was NUTS to let us do this in her house and take on the risk"

I find that, if you want to truly go pro, there are too many hoops to jump through and there simply isn't enough money to be made in haunted houses to justify the cost it would take to run (and I HATE haunted houses that charge UN-GODLY amounts like $15-$20 person) when you consider that you're only IN there maybe 10 minutes (if that).

Besides, the main reason I would want to build a haunt in the first place is for FUN, not as a business venture.

Ah well, good thing I took LOTS of pictures. :p
I have to agree 100%. I keep reading posts that people say "I don't charge any money, so I don't need any insurance". Any time someone steps on your property, you are liable. Now combine that with an atmosphere of scare and low lights and fog, and now the possibilities of increased. We have our home owner policy and I also buy an additional policy for the nights that we will be open.

We run a haunt for charity and we don't make a profit. If we were to charge more to cover our expenses, we would turn away a lot of people. I do everything possible to make sure there are no accidents. We monitor the people, and control the situations.

As much as I enjoy building my haunt and scaring the &%# out of people, this will probably be our last year. I have improved our haunt since the first time scaring. When I look back at the older photos and compare to the new scares and scenes, I'm proud of the work. I don't like to think of giving this up, since I work on it year round and it is left up year round. I just don't want to see someone come through and take it all away. So, this last year will be the best year for us.

Good luck and happy haunting.
 

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This topic has come up every year when someone's haunt gets shut down and a reminder warning was brought up at the last Colorado gathering. Since we have a new influx of members it's time to get y'all thinking about safety.

In Fort Collins, Colorado, ALL haunted houses are required to obtain a permit and pass a fire inspection. It doesn't matter if you are charging admission or not the rules must be followed. Now, there is no distinction between a "haunted house" and a "yard haunt" on the government website but the rumor at the Colorado gathering was that yard haunts also had to follow the same rules.

Here's what the haunters in Fort Collins have to do:
1. All haunted houses must conform to the Uniform Building Code for temporary buildings or structures.
2. No fire protection systems (alarms or sprinklers) in any building shall be obstructed by the construction of this haunted house.
3. "NO SMOKING" signs must be posted at the entrance.
4. There shall be trained staff members with flashlights available at all times. These staff members must know the interior maze, exit facilities, and enforce "no smoking" restrictions within the area.
5. No readily combustible material can be used for construction or decoration in the haunted house unless it is treated with a flame-retardant chemical. NO BLACK PLASTIC IS ALLOWED.
6. All electrical wiring must conform to the National Electrical Code for temporary installations.
7. Fire extinguishers of at least a 2A rating must be placed every 75 feet of travel distance. The trained staff must know where they are and how to use them.
8. Customers may be required to be escorted through the haunted houses by haunted house staff, i.e. 10 in/10 out.
9. Additional single station smoke detectors may be required by the Fire Marshal.
An on-site consultation and inspection of the area to be utilized as a "haunted house"

What sort of rules do you have to follow in your city?

Another huge WTH was that home haunts and pro haunts had to carry additional insurance (home owners insurance wasn't enough). I haven't found anything online yet to back this up. Apparently the fraternities and sororities may have been playing fast and loose with public safety (rumor) and the city government decided to drop the hammer before anyone got hurt.

Revenant mentioned fire inspections and black plastic on Hauntcast a few shows back. It was an important warning. Did you know that fabric/plastic that has been treated with a fire retardant has a shelf life of a YEAR??? That's right. One year, one season. That means there could be haunts out there that will not pass a fire inspection due to 366 day old material.

If you are doing a walk though or haunted house it is up to you to make sure that your structure passes codes. All it takes is one neighbor or one rival haunt to make a call to the fire department and get you shut down.

Take a few moments, do the research and protect yourself and your hobby/passion/addiction.
With our haunt, I have increased the number of fire extinguishers and smoke alarms in the areas. If needed, the main lighting inside can be turned on at any time. Signs are posted at the beginning warning patrons of what will be inside, IE: low lights, noise, fog, strobes and a lot of scaring. Our one year we sponsored the fire department, we had the fire chief and his wife come through. There was no mention of inspections from him. Maybe if there are more opening up in our area, it will become an issue and restrictions and laws will be enforced. Signs are posted at exits and emergency exit is readily available. When I build, I build with the thought of me walking through the first time and looking at what could be a problem.

We had 2 incidents, last year, where patrons went into walls and broke them. I'm glad it happened, because I didn't think it was possible and then those walls and others were reinforced.

We have used 2 way radios and are always in contact with the workers inside. We have workers with flashlights. This year everyone will have a light to carry. It helps in emergencies, but to also just get through the haunt to their scenes.

When building, build it as if you were the customer.

Happy haunting and keep it safe.
 

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Craft my own animated props, create a huge display, visit local "Haunted Events"
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They can't call yard displays "haunted houses" and run them by the same rules. If that were the case then every Christmas display would also have to meet those conditions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
They can't call yard displays "haunted houses" and run them by the same rules. If that were the case then every Christmas display would also have to meet those conditions.
True, but if you have a structure that people walk through then it can fall under the rules. Most Christmas displays do not involve a walk through with walls and rooms.
 

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It's kind of funny/scary how I went all those years with a full walk-through haunted house in the basement of my parents house without even thinking about all the potential rules I was breaking.

I mean, we always made sure safety was the #1 priority. We would keep a fire extinguisher or two on hand, post lots of safety rules, have actors posted all through-out the haunt with flashlights just in case, I would even follow EVERY SINGLE group through to keep an eye on things (in costume of course) with only 1 group of 4-5 people allowed in at a time, PERIOD.

I suppose we must have been lucky NOT to have been inspected. Maybe because we were raising money for crime stoppers, nobody wanted to complain (good cause, plus run by cops).

Come to think about it though, it was awfully dark in the haunt... no way of turning on emergency lights and if you don't know where you are it would take a few extra seconds to get to the exit.

All the more reason I dont want to take on that headache at my own house.

Now that i'm a home-owner myself, I think "wow, my mom was NUTS to let us do this in her house and take on the risk"

I find that, if you want to truly go pro, there are too many hoops to jump through and there simply isn't enough money to be made in haunted houses to justify the cost it would take to run (and I HATE haunted houses that charge UN-GODLY amounts like $15-$20 person) when you consider that you're only IN there maybe 10 minutes (if that).

Besides, the main reason I would want to build a haunt in the first place is for FUN, not as a business venture.

Ah well, good thing I took LOTS of pictures. :p
We only charge $4.00 for the haunt and it all goes too a charitable organization in our town Last year we made 1000.00 toward our organization in 2 nights. Not bad for 2 nights of scare fest.
 

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Don't take the risk

There have been a lot of posts about home haunts and insurance. We had to change our main carrier because of the "haunted house setup". Our first insurance co. told us "as long as you are accepting money of any type, ie: admission or donation", that removes you from the classification of home haunt. If there was no money involved, the home owners policy would be sufficiant. Now we have the main carrier and an additional carrier and policy for the nights the haunt is open. It's peace of mind.

Luckily, our area has not enforced the issue of inspections and permits. I don't look forward to the day the neighbors call them and complain about our haunt and the traffic. So for now, I do the best I can to make sure everything is safe and prevent any problems from happening. Remember, it only takes one person to call and complain, then they're at the door knocking and will find something to shut you down.

The season is approaching fast, so have fun and enjoy it.
 

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That's the great part of living in Germany, no liability laws. Plus, the host nationals have their own social insurance. If someone was to get hurt, then they go to the emergency room and show their healthcare card. In our haunt, we do try to keep safety #1. I have four large fire extinguishers, emergency shutoffs, backup battery exit signs, first-aid kits, flashlights for the actors, and radios for the guides. The one thing I didn't think about is smoke alarms. That's an easy thing to manage. The forum does bring up good points to be aware of.
 

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All areas covered

That's the great part of living in Germany, no liability laws. Plus, the host nationals have their own social insurance. If someone was to get hurt, then they go to the emergency room and show their healthcare card. In our haunt, we do try to keep safety #1. I have four large fire extinguishers, emergency shutoffs, backup battery exit signs, first-aid kits, flashlights for the actors, and radios for the guides. The one thing I didn't think about is smoke alarms. That's an easy thing to manage. The forum does bring up good points to be aware of.
This looks like you have all the points covered.
 

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Jeez. You think the work that goes into designing and building a commercial haunted attraction isn't even worth $15? That's a pretty fair price, if you ask me.
It really depends on the haunt IMO. $15 is pretty cheap nowadays, but some haunts, especially here in New York, are total rip-offs. Blood manor charges $35 for a single haunt that uses scene setters. Ever go to Bayville Scream Park? That place only charges $15 per haunt, but 4 out of 5 of them are uninspired pieces of crap. In one of them, you just walk through a maze of plastic walls outdoors with no lighting, and occasionally an actor in cheap makeup jumps out. It was horrible.

If you ever get the chance, make the trip out to headless horseman. You pay 30 bucks and go through 5 really great haunts that last about an hour all together.
 

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Blood manor charges $35 for a single haunt that uses scene setters. Ever go to Bayville Scream Park? That place only charges $15 per haunt, but 4 out of 5 of them are uninspired pieces of crap. In one of them, you just walk through a maze of plastic walls outdoors with no lighting, and occasionally an actor in cheap makeup jumps out. It was horrible
Oh I totally agree with you on that front, we've got even more of those on Long Island than there are in the city, BUT on the flip side I think some haunts are worth a lot more than they charge!
 
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