I-TEAM: Haunted attraction safety during Halloween season
PIGGOTT, Ark. (KAIT) - October has always been marked as the month of spooks, as Halloween sits at the end of the month.
Thousands line up to voluntarily get spooked each year at a number of haunted attractions across the country.
However, those haunted attractions sometimes can cause incidents that are even more unexpected than the attraction itself.
Before the unexpected pops out, the people behind the scenes are working to keep it scary and safe.
The idea of haunted houses dates back to the 19th century. Since then, the attractions became more popular over the years and even scarier.
According to the New York Times, in 1984, eight teenagers were killed during a fire at a haunted house in New Jersey.
This sparked a movement of closures in the haunted entertainment industry and stricter regulations by lawmakers.
“In our minds that is paramount,” said Ellen Dalton, owner of Pumpkin Hallow.
Dalton and her family have run Pumpkin Hallow for nearly 30 years in Piggott.
Each season, the haunted attractions bring in thousands of visitors, and safety is never forgotten in the process.
“We put a lot of thought and a lot of planning into keeping people safe here,” she said.
According to Dalton, each building is led by a supervisor who makes sure everything is moving along smoothly.
Rules are posted about acceptable behavior inside the building for patrons and the scarers.
“There is a section of rules there that tells people how they should and should not behave,” Dalton said. “Not to touch our actors and, in turn, our actors are not to touch them.”
Throughout the night, supervisors, staff, and scarers are in constant contact with each other.
Conner Henson is known as Bubba of Bubba’s Butcher Barn on the Pumpkin Hallow premises. He has been a part of the scene for over a decade, and he knows from his time that safety is something not to ignore.
“We always want to make sure everyone goes home at the end of the night safe, we want to make sure all of the patrons have a good show,” he said.
Dalton said to make sure everyone is aware of exit locations, the team runs through each attraction before the doors open.
“They are shown where the fire extinguishers are if they are needed, and they are informed there will be officers on site. They are informed on how to get help if needed,” she said.
Other than that, there are regulations and fire code requirements the team must follow to open. Some include automatic sprinklers, exit markings, and smoke detection.
Before people enter, they are warned some of the attractions are very scary and asked to seek an exit if they can not handle the scares.
In case of an emergency, Dalton said they try to make sure the presence of law enforcement is near.
correction: Due to a reporter error, we originally identify the owner of Pumpkin Hollow as Ellen Dawson. We regret the error.
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