5 things to know about haunted houses - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

5 things to know about haunted houses

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With Halloween just over a week away, many people are thinking about getting in a little thrill at a haunted house -- but there are some things that should be considered before stepping foot inside.

1. ASK ABOUT SAFETY

For most, picking a haunted house for a scream comes down to location and price, but even some of the people who run the show say those looking for a prepared scare should ask about safety first.

At Nightmare Hallow Scream Park at Running Aces, the owner behind the curtain, Jean Sockness, has been in the business for 22 years. She said in the beginning, there were hardly any rules in the haunted house business. Now, times have changed.

In fact, this year, Sockness is encouraging fright fans to inquire about safety precautions before going to any haunted house because there are too many horror stories of people getting burned and cut. One girl even had a noose placed around her neck, creating a potential for preventable injuries.

"I've heard of a few accidents from a couple different, other haunts where it's like, 'why?" Chuck Visger, an actor who plays Freddie, told Fox 9 News. "'Why did you get so close?' 'Cause there's no reason for it, especially with a chainsaw."

2. ENSURE THEY ARE INSURED

All the popular haunted houses Fox 9 News contacted -- including the Soap Factory, Buck Hill and Nightmare Hallow -- have specific insurance policies just in case someone gets hurt.

"If they got injured -- if they got truly injured. Yes, it would cover them," Sockness assured.

3. WILL THE ACTORS TOUCH YOU?

Sockness also says that people should find out ahead of time whether the actors at a haunted house will touch customers or not, and ask what kind of training the staff has.

"It should be an arm's length to stay away from people," she recommend. "Arm's length or more."

4. CHECK FIRE, SPRINKLER SYSTEMS

From city to city, the requirements on fire usage and sprinkler systems vary -- but fog and flames are worth asking about.

"This whole haunted house is fire retardant," Sockness said of her setup.

5. GET THE SAFEWORD

At many haunted houses, actors offer a safeword so that anyone can let them know if what is intended to be frightful fun turns out to be too much to take.

"You have to follow the rules if you are going to have a Halloween event," Sockness said. "I've learned a ton. My people have learned a ton, and we are better for it."

Many of the answers to these questions are available on the websites for haunted houses, but others will get the details to customers via e-mail or phone within an hour.

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