Haunted house or liability pit?

Ensure your fall activities don’t break the bank.

by Austin Wilkerson

pumpkins croppedFall is a great time for hay rides, festivals, corn mazes, and haunted houses. These activities bring great fun, but organizations must ensure they are also safe. These common-sense safety measures will help ensure everyone has a good time:

  • Screen volunteers, particularly those who will have access to children. Screening should include appropriate background checks. Laws governing background checks can be confusing, so we recommend you contact your attorney to help determine the appropriate procedure.
  • Ensure adequate insurance coverage. Call your insurance agent to see what coverage you have, and call your attorney to see what coverage you need. Check any vendors’ (e.g., bounce houses, petting zoos, refreshments, etc.) insurance policies, as well, and require that they name you as an additional insured.
  • Inspect the event venue, including the grounds and parking lot, for possible hazards such as cracks or holes in the pavement, tripping hazards, water leakage, and other potentially unsafe conditions. Be sure any such conditions are repaired or blocked to prevent injury.
  • Provide good lighting inside and outside. Low lights may increase spookiness, but they also increase the potential for injury and, in some cases, criminal activity.
  • Provide appropriate security, first-aid, and parking services. We recommend trained security and medical personnel for every event, even if they are volunteers. For large events, you should consider whether additional measures, such as off-duty police officers, a first-aid station, or an on-site ambulance, are necessary.
  • Consider whether additional safety measures may be necessary. Certain activities have more inherent risks than others. These may include warning posters, liability waivers, parental authorization for participation, fire inspections, etc.

When in doubt, contact your attorney for help determining appropriate risk management measures. A little planning will help keep your guests safe and protect your organization. It’s a win-win.

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