INDIANAPOLIS — It is spooky season but it’s also the season of precaution. On Friday, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security inspected The Thirteenth Hour haunted house to make sure the only frights are the planned ones.

“We’re coming out to see compliance and making sure everything’s safe, making sure that people can go through the haunt, have a good time and not have to worry about if the worst happens,” said Mitchell Kreiger, a code official for IDHS.

From exit doors swinging the wrong way to alarm report issues, Kreiger says they catch a variety of issues during their inspections. If the haunt isn’t keeping up with lighting and exit signs, then they will have issues working under backup power.

Some of these issues that the inspectors look for include, but are not limited to, trip hazards, making sure there is an efficient exit every 50 feet, running smoke detectors, and lighted stairwells.

Haunted houses are not allowed to operate until they have the specific codes in place. The reason these codes are in place for haunted houses is due to an incident at Six Flags’ Haunted Castle in 1984.

According to investigators, on the night of the fire, a 14-year-old was using a lighter to illuminate his path of travel. The report says it was apparently common practice for visitors in the Haunted Castle to light matches or lighters for this purpose.

The investigators found that a strobe light was malfunctioning, periodically leaving the corridor in total darkness. While walking through this path, the teenager walked into a foam pad, setting it on fire.

While the teen tried to put out the fire, the report says he was unsuccessful before continuing through the Castle. This foam pad burned rapidly, spreading the fire down the corridor.

A group of five visitors encountered smoke and heat. Investigators believe they tried to retreat, meeting up with a group of four visitors. All nine tried to head back to the main entrance, but all but one succumbed to the smoke.

Now, haunted houses like Thirteenth Hour do their best to make sure that while they look scary, they are safe for visitors.

“At the end of the day, haunted houses are meant to look scary, look like they’re not new,” says Benjamin Ganye, Owner of the Thirteenth Hour Haunted House. “We spent a lot of effort making things look old and unsafe but it is safe.”

Ganye explains that this includes fire alarms, sprinklers, and detectors to alert visitors if there is an emergency. They conduct evacuation drills with staff and teach them how to use a fire extinguisher.

“Anything to help our guests if we really need to,” says Ganye.

The haunted attraction recently moved to its current location on Shortridge Road. When they moved, they built a brand new building for the sole purpose of a haunted house.

“There’s decisions we’ve made throughout the process to make sure our guests have easy ways to get out,” said Ganye. “We built more exit doors, a fire alarm system, where we’re able to evacuate much quicker.”

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security offered these tips to have a safe visit to a haunted house

  • Make sure the attraction has a permit showing it has been inspected and approved by IDHS.
  • Adequate lighting should be around doorways, walkways and any attractions.
  • Locate all exits before entering; all exits should be clearly marked.
  • Legitimate haunted houses should have numerous fire extinguishers, smoke alarms and sprinklers.
  • Do no run through a haunted house.
  • To report a problem, call 800-669-7362. 

For fun fall activities and destinations in central Indiana visit our website. To find out more about IDHS visit their website.

The Thirteenth Hour is open through the end of October Fridays through Sundays. People can buy tickets in advance by visiting its website.