Local haunted house makes sure visitors scared, workers safe

Shock House uses camera and radio surveillance to monitor what goes on inside

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois - Haunted houses are meant to be frightening, but they also have to be safe. 

The Illinois Labor Department has specific requirements haunted houses must meet. To get their permit they must meet fire and electrical codes, then pass an inspection before opening their doors each year.

Kristofer Swinburn runs Shock House Haunted House in Rock Island. He works hard to make sure his haunted house is scary for his guests, and not for his actors. 

Swinburn has been in the haunted house business since he was 16 years old, so he's seen his share of out of control guests. 

"There was a group of about six gentleman that had way too much to drink," Swinburn said. "They were just destroying things."

He keeps that experience in mind when putting together his own extensive security plan. 

There can be anywhere from 20 to 50 people working at a time in Shock House. Most, if not all, of them have radios, which allow for constant communication. 

"The second they pay, radio signal goes out, 'Hey we have an intoxicated individual or we have a rowdy group or these guys look a little off,'" Swinburn said. 

Then Swinburn keeps an eye on everyone from here his master control room where 12 infrared cameras help him keep track of the actors and guests. 

"They get one warning, they're out," Swinburn said about guests who cause trouble.

Swinburn said his actors also go through extensive safety training to learn scare tactics that keep them a safe distance away from visitors, but some haunted house trends are making that harder to do. 

"One of the swings in the haunting industry is full contact haunted houses. There are some people that think it's great," Swinburn said. "A lot of us think it's going to end up giving us all a bad [reputation] because people are going to get way too wild and somebody's going to get hurt even more." 

In case anyone does get hurt Illinois requires haunted houses have liability insurance, but a spokesperson at the Labor Department said they haven't received any reports of an accident at a haunted house since they began monitoring them in 2009. 

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