By Walter Hutsky
With so many people interested in the paranormal, I think greater attention needs to be directed towards how dangerous it can really be. This article covers various dangers you may or may not have considered before while performing an investigation. Education is the greatest tool you can use to protect yourself.
Physical Location Injuries:
Many places contain hidden dangers you need to be aware of. Always ask the property owner of the location being investigated to inform you of any known structural defects, rusty nails, improper wiring, toxic fumes, broken glass, open graves if you are in a cemetery, criminal activity or any other dangers they may know of. It is very easy to hurt yourself in an unfamiliar environment, especially in the dark.
Always do walk through of the area being investigated to make note of all potential problems before you “go dark”. One of our team member’s recommends leaving your shoes on at all times in a client’s home as to not accidentally step on any kind of object, needle or glass.
Make sure to have a cell phone and first aid kit included in your equipment. Two-way radios should be used if your group needs to split up.
It can also be helpful to personally location before committing to do an investigation there. This can allow you to get a feel for what the place and client are like. If you get a bad feeling from the look of a place, you may want to skip investigating it.
Mental Illness/Drug Abuse:
Clients themselves are often the greatest danger to a paranormal investigator. It is very rare for any kind of paranormal activity to harm you. It is in fact the living that poses the greatest threat.
Many times clients will contact us and show obvious symptoms of a dangerous mental illness or even drug abuse. It can be very hard to tell the signs and symptoms of a mental condition or drug use, especially when most paranormal investigators aren’t properly trained to do so. If you suspect the person contacting you may have sort of problem, you may want to set up a meeting in a public location as a precaution.
It can be very helpful to know a psychiatrist to get advice from when situations like this occur. You may also want to recommend your clients to a psychiatrist as a way to help determine a cause of what is going on.
A good way to try and help protect you and your team is by doing a criminal background check of all clients. These services are sometimes free and can go a long way in your protection. Please check your local state or county website for more information to see if these services are available.
People will sometimes use the supernatural as an excuse for physical or emotional injuries. Special attention must be made when dealing with children or people reporting physical injuries as a result of a paranormal experience. If you suspect abuse is taking place, it is your duty to report it to the proper authorities.
This kind of danger can apply to both the investigators and clients. If suspected paranormal activity starts to occur it can cause certain individuals to act out in a dangerous and sporadic manor. People may run screaming from a place and hurt someone else or themselves.
Many people also have physical ailments, such as a heart condition, allergy or diabetes and in certain situations this can pose a great risk during an investigation. Be aware of any and all aliments you and the team need to address prior to investigating.
I have found that driving home after a long night of ghost hunting can be dangerous because of lack of sleep. Please be cautious or ask for a ride home if you feel unsafe driving.
Keeping your head on straight during an investigation can sometimes be a tough task that not everyone is cut out for. Some people are easily startled or scared and can “freak out” under certain conditions. It is extremely important that your group consists of individuals who can remain calm in volatile situations.
You never want to frighten the clients or show them that you can’t handle the case. This will take away any confidence clients have in you trying to help them. If you find yourself in a situation you can’t handle, you need to simply walk away quietly and pull yourself together. I’ve heard stories of investigators acting out by crying, hitting and pushing others out of the way because they were so scared at times.
Certain individuals may contact your group because they have a hidden agenda. They can be out to try and sue, damage your image, or use a false claim of paranormal activity for notoriety or monetary gain. Require clients to sign some sort of waiver granting you permission to investigate and use collected data.
A legal expert should be contacted for help in preparing your documentation. It is also helpful to electronically record the client granting verbal permission to perform certain tasks. This advice could help save you many problems in a court of law. Be extremely cautious as to what you post on the Internet because client confidentiality can be a very touchy subject.
Another issue that seems to come up a lot with paranormal teams involves trespassing. Always obtain property owner or police permission before entering cemeteries or public locations. You may even want to notify local authorities even if you have property owner permission. If you get arrested trespassing it could seriously damage not only the reputation of your team, but also make others in the paranormal field look bad.
Many groups feel the need to investigate cemeteries. Most cemeteries are off limits at night and its best just to avoid them all together. We feel it is a type of desecration to be doing an investigation at one. Besides, how often has someone actually died in a cemetery? Chances are most cemeteries are not even haunted.
Investigations sometimes require the use of very expensive electronic equipment that can be easily stolen or damaged. It is a good idea to keep track of every piece of equipment using a written log sheet. It can also be very helpful to purchase insurance for your equipment if you can afford it. S.P.L.A.T. uses a detailed log sheet where items are marked off before and after each investigation to be sure we have everything accounted for when leaving or entering a location.
Ghost hunting groups have been popping up everywhere and this can cause an area to have more than one group. Please avoid slandering other groups or investigators or fighting over the rights to investigate a place. All groups have different methods and procedures and it important to work together for the good of the clients and the field. It can even be beneficial for different groups to investigate the same location. Different methods may produce different results.
Fighting within your own group can sometimes occur after long a night together and lack of sleep. Egos, obsession with the paranormal, personality conflicts and more can all be problems you will most likely encounter over time.
This is a kind of obvious danger that I think needs mentioned. If you are planning for an outdoor investigation you need check the upcoming weather and dress yourself appropriately. Some places are very cold and require many layers of clothing, while others are extremely hot and will require you to have plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
While this danger is rare it still needs to be mentioned. Scratches, bruises, pulled hair, physical and mental illness, feelings of dread, chills, high anxiety, doubting of your own faith, and thrown objects can all be attributed to these kinds of spirits. Investigators who are not mentally and spiritually prepared for this are most susceptible. SPLAT uses a prayer before going into any investigation as protection against evil spirits. No matter what your faith is you need to be in the right frame of mind to conduct an investigation.
Malevolent spirits can sometimes cling onto individuals and follow them home. We aren’t sure how common this is, but it appears the danger does exits. It is said demons know your weaknesses and can feed off of them.
If you want more information on these and other danger, please visit www.dangersoftheparanormal.com. There you will a wealth of information, including find interviews with many top names in the paranormal, such as John Zaffis and Chip Coffee.