Don’t let your haunted house experience turn into a nightmare

‘We want to simulate fear, but we don’t want to have actual fear,’ local haunted house owner says
Published: Oct. 17, 2022 at 1:41 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 18, 2022 at 12:37 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Spooky season is here.

If you’re looking for a scare, you’ll probably want to visit a haunted house. But before you head down any dark hallways, make sure you’re going to a haunted house that’s safe.

At Containment Haunted House in Douglasville, the spooky storyline changes each year. This year’s theme is “The Awakening.”

“The spirits of the underworld have awakened and found a way to open the veil to drag the living through the veil and into the afterlife,” Joey McCollough, Containment Haunted House’s owner, said.

While it may look like a creepy old warehouse, Containment is up to date and meets fire code requirements.

“All of our staff is trained. If something happens, they know where the nearest emergency exit is, to get everybody out safely,” McCollough said.

Containment Haunted House in Douglasville
Containment Haunted House in Douglasville(Rachel Polansky)

“We look at exits, fire extinguishers, electrical systems, the use of electrical cords, any fire dangers,” Douglas County Fire Department Deputy Chief Pablo Lugo said.

The Douglas County Fire Department performed a safety check before Containment opened its doors for the season, inspecting suppression systems, electricals and exit markings, among other things.

It’s something every haunted house in Georgia is supposed to do. And if they fail, they cannot open until they’re re-inspected and given the green light from their local fire department.

“Public safety wise, we check everything,” Lugo added.

These safeguards are not unwarranted. In the 1980s, a haunted castle attraction at a New Jersey Six Flags caught fire, killing eight teenagers trapped inside. The teens were unable to make their way through the convoluted 450-foot-long path to the exit.

While the haunted castle included emergency lighting, there were no smoke alarm or sprinkler systems. The tragedy prompted several changes to the National Fire Protection Association or NFPA’s Safety Code, including the addition of a new section titled “provisions for special amusement buildings.”

Forty years later, these regulations have been adopted by every state. Some localities like Douglas County take it a step further, requiring the three haunted houses in their county to keep a firefighter on site, every night they’re open.

“If they smell anything, if they see anything, they tell everyone to get out, they call 911,” Lugo said. “You need to be safe. You need to be cognizant.”

Haunted houses like Containment welcome the extra set of eyes.

“There are nights where we run thousands of people. But you want to make sure that every single one comes in safely and goes home safely. We want to simulate fear, but we don’t want to have actual fear,” McCollough said.

If you want to know if your neighborhood haunted house is permitted and up to code before you visit, call your local fire department. Haunted houses that are permitted will be equipped with smoke detectors, fire alarms and clearly marked exits.

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