What to check before opening every night
Each night you open your haunted house to let customers in to be scared and to enjoy your designs you should be doing a pre-check. The opening safety pre-check is to make sure nothing dangerous has popped up. Maybe repairs were done during the middle of the previous night or perhaps something got knocked loose our out of place. In any case performing a safety pre-check prior to opening will make sure there is no dangers for your customers or your actors. All of these can be done with a thorough walk through of your haunted house prior to opening. This should be done by senior staff not actors or others that may play around or get distracted walking through your haunted house. Below are some critical items to look for but keep in mind a safety pre-check is to uncover the unexpected also, things that are not common so keep your eyes open when doing these for other items not listed below. These are starting minimal guidelines for you.
Go ahead and get started with this haunted house safety checklist.
PROBLEM: Nails & Screws
The majority of haunts are built with lumber and nails or screws are what is used to hold them together. You should be checking that there are none exposed through walls or set pieces that a customer could get hooked or cut on. It is not uncommon for something like a hand, skull or creature to be removed as a souvenir from a wall leaving a screw sticking out that a customer can be injured on. As mentioned earlier walls could of become loose or furniture knocked loose and if screws were holding them in place where are they now? Are they exposed? Were new ones put in during operation to secure those items and if so are they poking out into a hallway on the other side?
SOLUTION: Flashlight Inspection
This is one of the easiest items to check for. Take a flashlight and walk the haunt every night before opening and check the walls and props and furniture for any exposed nails or screws. If you spot one, cut it off or back it out and reset it so it is not exposed. Another option we have seen used is to put wine corks and screw them on top of the screw if it must stay but we recommend resetting or adding a piece of lumber or prop onto the wall that the screw or nail will sink into.
PROBLEM: Fire Extinguishers
Fire Extinguishers are a must. They are part of fire code. What is often not thought about is making sure your actors and staff know how to use them properly and that they know where they are. Did anyone move one, knock it out of place or take it? You must have these in case of a fire emergency.
SOULTION: Spot Check Locations
Doing a quick spot check when you walk the haunt checking for nails and screws will insure these are all still in place and have not been tampered with.
PROBLEM: Trip Hazards
A common problem is with electrical and other props that can be shifted and knocked into walkways. Having items in the walkway that can cause a customer or staff member trip and injury themselves is the last thing you want to be dealing with. So take the following steps to prevent this.
SOLUTION: Spot Check
Again this is just a spot check item. As you walk doing your nail/screw, fire extinguisher checks pay attention to the walkway. Is there anything knocked into it, sticking into the path, laying across it, any electrical out of place. If you spot any of it quickly and effectively fix the problem so it is no longer in the walkway and make sure it is secured so it will not end up in the walkway again.
PROBLEM: Loose Walls/Furniture/Props
Haunted houses take a beating every night. With hundreds to thousands of customers coming through a haunted house you must be sure things are still in their appropriate places. Walls get knocked and kicked loose, furniture can get bumped out of place and loose along with props.
SOLUTION: Thorough Spot Check
This item takes a little more than a simple visual check. You can visually notice furniture and props out of place but walls often have to be physically checked to see if nails or screws have been knocked loose. These are often the walls that involve scare spots where customers might slam up against them in fear or in trying to get away. If you find a loose wall or piece of furniture or prop make sure to re-secure it and check for exposed nails or screws again. If furniture or props are not secured and are knocked out of place consider securing them, if they got knocked out of place once you can bet they will again.
PROBLEM: Emergency Exits
Emergency exits are a code issue. They are required for operation and building/fire signoff. It is your responsibility to make sure they remain in operation and in place. They should work properly in emergency and non-emergency conditions and this should be checked each night.
SOLUTION: Spot Check
This will require 2 walkthroughs. You will need to check the lights operation in haunt operation mode and then again in emergency mode to make sure they are all functioning properly. Make sure none are missing, bulbs are not burnt out, they have not been knocked loose either.
If you want a more definitive list for your haunted house then check out our 64 point haunted house safety checklist. For $2.99 you can download your pdf copy of the checklist that covers areas such as general safety, ladder safety, electrical safety, tool safety, construction safety, actor safety, security safety, parking safety and more.