So you’ve read a considerable amount, and now you want to spend the night at a haunted location yourself? Many ghost hunters make this transition into a more extreme form of paranormal hunting and quickly find it to be a quite powerful way of getting in touch with their friends’ haunted homes. But there are several things to bear in mind when staying the night at a haunted hotspot to ensure the experience doesn’t become horrifying for all the wrong reasons.
First, in days of yore haunted houses were often strictly off limits for one reason or another. If they are truly haunted these buildings often fall into disrepair. Collapsed boards, broken furniture, and shattered glass not only added to the ambiance of the haunted locales, but also serve as a grim reminder that the place could be dangerous. Accounts of people getting scared and being injured while on a ghost hunt are not generally due to any direct action of the ghosts themselves, but rather by the witnesses who then flee the location and step on a nail, snag themselves on a low hanging wire, or fall into a section of collapsed floor. For this reason, it is important to know your environment and only go to houses that are approved by the proper authorities as habitable and not dangerous. A lot of people ignore this advice and end up injured during ghost hunts. The ideal locations to spend the night in a haunted place are hotels, houses belonging to friends and relatives, historic landmarks during an overnight ghost tour, and other places where you have approval to be there. Don’t let your overnight stay in a haunted house turn into an overnight stay in jail due to trespassing.
Second, know who you’re going with. Ghost hunting kit lists often omit the most important assets a person can have while rounding a corner just after the power goes out and your last flashlight is failing: the company you keep. More important than the personality a ghost hunting team declares for itself is the mental acuity of your team members. Will this be their first encounter with the paranormal? Are they able to keep their cool in situations that seem extreme? There are plenty of people out there who want to hunt ghosts, but there are different levels of ghost hunting that each person will be comfortable with. Furthermore, it’s of extreme importance that you examine the level of responsibility displayed by those in your group. Are they going to make themselves an asset by keeping cool and being an additional witness? Or will they make themselves a liability for the group by taking risks, vandalizing, or attempting to disrupt the investigation?
Generally speaking, amateur ghost hunts are not intended to prove once and for all that ghosts do or do not exist. Rather, they’re an exploration by the individual to explore their relationship with the paranormal. Document what you want, but do not expect to get the final word about the paranormal on film. Furthermore, familiarize yourself with hoax detection. There are a few easily perpetrated and easily discovered hoaxes and accidents that will affect your group’s reputation either for the positive (if you identify it) or negatively. Decide what you want the goal of your group to be. Do you want to perform more scientific and tool based investigations? Will you accept the assistance of a psychic if one comes around? Are there tools you consider to be more effective than others? What is the budget of your group?
Keep in mind that an overnight stay in a haunted location is a fun way to connect with your own demons, and discover what scares you and possibly even surprise you with what you are okay with. But over all other factors, you have a responsibility to yourself and those around you to make sure the experience is safe, legitimate, and accurate.