Haunt safety and law suits

This is one of those stories that makes you scratch your head and go, “hmmmm…”.

A father is suing Six Flags for $30,000 after his daughter tripped and suffered scrapes and bruises trying to run away from a park employee who was part of the Fright Fest event.

The first question that comes to mind is, wouldn’t you expect “scary” characters to be featured at a Fright Fest? And, wouldn’t you prepare your child or not take them if they weren’t ready for something like that?

The dollar amount mentioned in the law suit seems frighteningly high for a few scrapes and bruises, too.

At the same time, though, safety is important whether your yard haunt is a professional theme park or a simple home yard haunt. If a child is running away from you screaming or clearly terrified, why would you chase them?

Some basic safety precautions for your home yard haunt should include (at a minimum) the following:

  • Make sure all electrical and extensions cords are kept out of the way of where people will be walking. If you must have them in those areas, make sure they’re well secured. I use pieces of wire coat hangers. Snip pieces about 10 inches long, bend them into a U shape and hammer them into the ground over the extension cord. I space these about a foot apart.
  • Make sure any ropes, chains, wire, etc you’ve used for temporary fencing is “tear away”. A few years ago, I had two little superheros go screaming through the cemetery and into the fence I’d set up after I inadvertently scared them. Luckily, the dad (who was laughing), managed to capture them before they hit the fence. You can easily make tear away fencing by making sure the connecting pieces at each end are not too tight. Whether it’s a twist tie or twisted taffeta, it should be strong enough to keep the fence chains in place, but weak enough to break loose easily.
  • If you blanket your neighbourhood in fog, like we do, make sure any tripping hazards have been removed or covered (safely) so people don’t trip on them in the dark or in the fog.
  • If you’re using flood lights or other lighting, make sure it’s far enough away that it’s not going to burn a curious trick-or-treater.
  • Open flames are a total no-no. If you do need real flame, make sure it’s either in an area nobody will get close to or have it safely enclosed. For lighting up pumpkins or witch jars, try using cheap bike blinkies.
  • If your yard haunt does have significantly gory features or if it’s truly scary, be sure to have a clearly visible sign warning parents. You can easily tie the sign into your haunt theme, but at least that way you’ve warned people in advance.

Good luck with your yard haunt and keep it safe!

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