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State officials offer advice on Halloween safety

Haunted house season is returning to Illinois with all its spooky sounds, creepy corridors and shrieks of surprise. But the doors don’t open without a permit to operate.

“We know people across the state are excited to visit their favorite haunted house again, and we’re going to make sure that night out is safe,” said Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) Director Michael Kleinik.

IDOL, the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM) and local agencies all play roles in making sure dozens of haunted houses that open their creaky doors in Illinois this time of year follow rules to ensure the safety of visitors.

“Fire and life safety are the top priority of the OSFM. While people enjoy being scared at haunted houses, they need to be able to safely escape in case of an emergency to avoid a real nightmarish scenario,” said Illinois State Fire Marshal Matt Perez.

In IDOL’s case, the inspections fall under the Department of Labor’s Amusement Ride and Attraction Safety Division. Halloween is another busy season for IDOL’s inspectors, following in the footsteps of the summer fair season.

All haunted houses in Illinois are required to be inspected, prior to operation, though haunted houses operated by not-for-profit religious, educational or charitable organizations can apply for an exemption from IDOL inspection. They still, however, must be inspected by local authorities and/or the State Fire Marshal’s office.

In addition to checking the safety of the physical facility, the rules also require a criminal background check and sex offender registry check for all non-volunteer operators and a written substance abuse policy that includes random drug testing.

Visitors to a haunted house must also adhere to the state’s indoor mask mandate, regardless of vaccination status. It’s also recommended that people or groups maintain as much distancing as possible from others.

If you determine no permit was issued for a haunted house you visited or need to report an accident or unsafe conditions, you should call the Department of Labor during business hours at 217-782-9347 or after hours at 217-299-5512. You can also submit a complaint online at the department’s website Illinois Department of Labor.

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