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Hello everyone I have Been building a Haunted house for the past few years fro the annual Halloween party but never made the haunt Public I want to start but I have worries fire hazzardsbulding codes people triping etc I do not know where to start in creating it Anybody Know Any past experiences with having a non profit home haunt:rolleyes:
 

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My husband "Jake from State Farm" haha (he's an insurance sup) is always against this idea. I have always wanted to as well and a haunted woods in the back yard and I'm always shut down and told someone will sue us, that I have no idea from the insurance standpoint. lol
 
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There are a number of threads on the forum about the hazards of doing an open to the pubic haunt. Here is a link to an old going pro thread... a lot will still apply to home haunts - http://www.halloweenforum.com/general-halloween/140463-going-pro.html

I only decorate the front of the property to be viewed from the street. We have a number of friends who do home haunt walk throughs and number one is INSURANCE COVERAGE just in case. Most have never had an issue with the fire marshals UNTIL they got too big... as in a crowd showing up each night. Now they want to see what's what for the safety of the public and yes even if you don't charge the fire folks can and will show up when you least expect it. Friends had been doing a charity haunt for YEARS one day the Fire Marshall showed up, did an inspection and nearly shut them down.... after 15 years of no problem... they suddenly had one. Each fire district is different and what flies in one might not in yours. Then there is the local officials... One home haunter got so big, a small pallet city on the front lawn, the city council got involved, wanted to close it down as a hazard. But another has a great thing going with their local officials they will actually send police down and block the road to cars on Halloween night so visitors can walk safely. So I'd say after making sure you are well insured talk to the local fire department and then someone at city hall to check on what your local rules and regs are for a home haunt that is open to the public...
 

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Hello everyone I have Been building a Haunted house for the past few years fro the annual Halloween party but never made the haunt Public I want to start but I have worries fire hazzardsbulding codes people triping etc I do not know where to start in creating it Anybody Know Any past experiences with having a non profit home haunt:rolleyes:
Is this just a home haunt that you want to open to the neighborhood...or are you talking going pro? Your homeowners insurance should cover a home haunt as long as money isn't involved. Charity haunts that collect cash, or even having a donation bucket to support the haunt all open you up to new rules and regulations. As a home-haunter, if you are negligent in your setup, yeah you can get sued, but applying some common sense should be able to mitigate hazards.
 

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When I did a home haunt/walk through, we increased our liability on our homeowners considerably for only $12 more dollars a year. Sometimes things aren't as expensive as we assume they will be. (pro haunts require commercial insurance btw)
You do need to check with your state fire marshal's website for fire code.
Tripping and accidents, always think it through, plan on worst case scenario, what if they run? What if they go backwards? etc. Unfortunately, most of your thinking, worrying and problem solving will be for 1% of your guests. the rowdy, the wild and the rude. :)
I did the walk through for 7 years and had only 1 or 2 problems with people and small one's at that, those were well worth the fun I had. :)
 

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Caretaker of Eerie Manor
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Maybe we've been flirting with disaster here but we've done a walk through for the past several years, the last two being in a free standing structure we erect in our driveway. We've never adjusted our insurance nor have we had issues with inspectors etc. Police and firemen have stopped by to check it out and come back with their kids on Halloween night. We've had people fall back, run into walls, drop to the ground, all out of fear, and other than one incident where some little kid lied to his mom about being bitten by one of our helpers, have never had any issues/complaints. We let people know up front it's dark, scary, and they are entering at their own risk. Again, maybe we've been lucky to date but everyone seems to love it and they keep coming back year after year. Probably just jinxed ourselves but I agree with Grey Lady, it's well worth the fun you have. You can drive yourself crazy worrying about all the little things that "might" happen but likely never will. JMO.
 

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BTW: If you think about it....leaving your porch light on is an invitation to get sued. A kid could be walking up to push your doorbell and trip and viola...lawsuit. Or if you live where it snows, someone could slip on your sidewalk....lawsuit.

Grey Lady's idea of adding a little more liability is a great idea year-round, not just on Halloween.
 

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A large part of having a safe Haunt is how you handle those people coming through it. They must not RUN! Always walk, no matter what. Enforce this every minute.
No drunks--No drinking on your property-No body! Ever!
Have methods or a system already in place to handle any roudys or drunks, don't get caught by surprise, they will be visiting you, eventually.
If you must have children working for you (not really legal in most states) have them only with their parents standing right beside them, looking out for them, seeing what goes on.
If a "Puncher" comes into your place and ends up punching someone, they will try to say "sorry" they scared me" or "Sorry, i am drunk'.
Don't believe them. Every time the apologizing drunk says this it is always ironic to me that given the drunken choice to smack someone in-costume, they Always smack the smallest "Monster", who might be a kid or a woman, they are never so drunk as to pick on someone who might return the abuse with full-force upon them, so how drunk were they really? Poor excuse and a basic lie. Prosecute them.
Have your haunt better lit instead of too dark. People will run into doorways and trip over many things if given the opportunity of it being just a little too dark.
Train your helpers to not advance too close to anyone. Many good scares can be created without getting closer than an arm's length, then be ready to beat a quick retreat.
All customers must take off any masks before coming through. This will keep them from joining in the scaring and possibly your people getting blamed for something they have done.(Or said, or touched)
Criminal back round checks are becoming the "Norm" for Haunt owners and employees. In this state through a company, it costs $16.00 unless they share some parts of their name with a criminal, then the state computer kicks the name out and they might have to go someplace and get finger printed $45.00 here.
We might wait almost a month for one check to come back or it might only take less than a week. When carnival season begins there is a backlog because "Carnies" have to get checked too, along with ski-slope lift chair operators, and there are two ski slopes not far from me here in illinois (Mount) Carroll, Ill.
Now we have to erect a small sign at our door (officially approved small size) of a pistol silhouette with a red bar through it meaning we have the legal right to say "No guns" here. If the sign is the wrong size or heaven forbid," homemade" we are wrong and it sounds as if any gun-carrier could make legal problems for us and they could bring their gun along with them into our house. ("BOO!"-"BANG!" He scared me! Sorry.") No good.
You could have the safest, best built, well designed haunt ever, yet those pesky "people" can really mess it up in so many ways, but don't allow any people into it and ... then where's the FUN?
 
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We live in Canada, and have been doing a haunted walk through for the past 4 years. The threat of litigation is way less up here. Last year, we moved into our new house and our haunt moved with us. We doubled the amount of traffic through our haunt. This year, we are considering getting "special event" insurance. Its designed to provide coverage for temporary events (concerts, festivals etc) that are not permanent. We are looking into this due to the fact of our increased traffic to our haunt, and that the haunt is becoming way larger and more elaborate. The policy we are looking at will cover us not only for 3rd party liability, but also for damages to our props, equipment etc form vandalism, damage and theft. I do not have a price yet for the policy, but I cannot see it being more then $100-200. A small price to pay for piece of mind.

P.S. to "ThatMOM". Have you asked your husband to look into a comprehensive policy that would proper shoulder the risk of suit or other litigation? I realize that the thought of being sued can be scary. But proper coverage can give you piece of mind.
 

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I found this while looking for liability issues for doing a walk through. I have been doing walk throughs for about 15 years now and haven't had any issues. I also keep the number allowed in low. Like max of 3 at a time and if you are really brave, come in alone. Only ones who do that is the 10-13 year old boys who think they are fearless. We have Walkie talkies with ear pieces, so we all know how many are coming in and how many left. This keeps anyone from trying to become part of the walk through. This also allows us to help anyone that needs it and fix anything that might be wrong or refill the candy dish. Then once that group leaves or gets to a certain spot then we allow the next group in. I agree with Gym, don't let the rowdy drunks in as that does nothing but create problems. I always do multiple walk throughs before allowing anyone in making sure that there is no trip hazards, no electrical concerns, enough light but not to much to expose a scare and no exposed staples or nails. I touch and feel everywhere.

I'm 40 and my mom (60ish) is the person at the front that allows or restricts the TOT'ers entering. I have multiple signs lit with rules and what may be inside. I also restrict costume masks being worn going through as well as any light including phone lights. Have asked more than one to either turn off the light or I'll escort you out. I mean you are going through a haunted house so why bring a light? It's also a hazard to the people inside because they can be blinded by the light and now they are a hazard to themselves and others.

In the end, I do it for the kids and myself. If my walk through becomes an issue then I'll quit but I will post a sign on Halloween night explaining why.
 

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Adding my 2 cents to this thread, I excessively worry about the 'what-ifs' and my exposure when doing a haunt. I've only done a garage haunt for a few years, but we also increased our insurance coverage during the month for a few bucks more.

Like others have said, some common sense goes a long way. We limit the number that can walk through at a time, and there is nothing across the floor that people can trip on (e.g. electrical cords). I obsess over making sure the path is wide enough, and while dark there is a decent amount of light. No fog machine inside because of the obscured visibility and how slippery the fog juice can be on a floor.

I'm actually thinking of putting in illuminated exit signs this year (yeah, like I said, I worry probably too much).
 

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We do similar things EvilEye, we added exit signs a couple of years ago. We also include 3 fire extinguishers at manned areas and train the actors on how to use them. We appoint one adult as our safety coordinator each night we are open. All of the actors know who it is and go to them with any concerns. We have asked our insurance provider about additional coverage a few times and they insist nothing is needed. Most of it really is common sense.
 
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