As haunted houses pop up across East Tennessee in October, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) is urging visitors to put safety first.
According to TDCI, haunted houses are called Special Amusement Buildings, and they have their own set of regulations.
“Special Amusement Buildings have a greater inherent risk than typical buildings because of their settings, scenery, low lighting and obstructed pathways,” said Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance Deputy Commissioner Gary West. “When visiting a haunted house amusement house, always be aware of your surroundings and on the lookout for safety features that can make the difference during a real-life emergency.”
Dead Man's Farm Haunted House in Lenoir City works to make sure its customers are safe as they step into a spooky realm of fright.
Sarah Linginfelter, owner of Dead Man's Farm Haunted House, said first responders are on sight in case of any emergencies, and its operations team does safety checks at the beginning and end of each night.
"You are never more than 25 feet from an exit," Linginfelter said. "There's a fire extinguisher at every exit. We have emergency radios. We have house lights that come on in case of an emergency."
Linginfelter said the haunted house is subject to state and local codes enforcement.
"Safety is the most important thing," she said. "We never want anyone to get injured when they're out here to have a good time."
When visiting a haunted house style amusement house, the state recommends keeping these safety guidelines in mind:
- Only attend a haunted house that has an automatic fire sprinkler system.
- Exit signs must be installed at required exit access doorways.
- An outdoor venue is typically safer than an indoor venue.
- Only licensed operators should operate any pyrotechnical flame effect.
- Haunted houses are created to disorient. Don’t forget about safety. Always look for the nearest exit and use it in case of an emergency.
- An emergency voice/alarm communication system, which can serve as a public-address system, shall be installed.
- Report any violations of these rules or any dangerous activity you might see to the State Fire Marshal’s Office or local code enforcement officials.
Linginfelter said anyone who is too scared inside their haunted house is advised to cluck like a chicken if they need help. She said screaming does no good because everyone else is screaming, too.
"When people are scared they do things that they're not, that they might not normally do, and we're prepared for that, and we train our staff for that," she said.
Dead Man's Farm Haunted House will hold a "lights on" tour on Oct. 25. Actors will not where makeup and will guide tours through the haunted house. Proceeds will benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Loudon County.