Saturday, 3 January 2015

Ghost Hunting 101

So you’ve got the tickets for your very first ghost hunt.  Now what?

1, Transport.
Make sure you have the ‘SAT NAV’ code and address for where you are going especially if you are the driver!  Also check your car, make sure it has enough of all those precious fluids it needs to function properly; petrol/diesel – not all venues are in the middle of populated areas or where there is a petrol station conveniently close at hand.
2, Equipment.
All you really need is a working torch and spare batteries.  Many ghost hunting teams have kit that they are wiling to lend and explain what they are for and how they work.  A camera perhaps, but if you are going to use flash photography, please warn the people in your group before you press the button to take that shot.  The flash of a camera flash is blindingly bright in the dark.   It’s simple; say “flash” aloud before you flash!
Oh, and if you do borrow kit, please give it back.  Quite often it belongs to a team member.
 3, Clothing.
It may have been sunny all day on the date of your ghost hunt, but many hunts start at 21.00hrs and go on until 02 – 03.00hrs the next day, while it may seem obvious remember, it gets cold at night!  Not all venues are heated, tunnels and caves most certainly are not and they stay cold all year round.  I have known people to turn up to a ghost hunt wearing a thin summer t-shirt, shorts and strappy sandals, and by midnight be wanting to go home because they were freezing.  Yet Ghost Encounters have been on a ghost hunt where it registered minus 12 inside – Tatton Old Hall, 4th December, the year with all the snow – but we’re still here.  
The answer is appropriate clothing!  Trousers, socks (may be several pairs worn at once), jumper, coat, jacket, hat, scarf, gloves – layers: that you can take off or put on as needed.   And proper footwear; sturdy trainers are good, spare boots if you are going outside.  I wouldn’t suggest really heavy boots, unless you have to tramp across open fields or rough ground to get there, as indoors they can be clompy, which can be annoying on wooden floors in old echoic buildings.  Whatever you decide to put on your feet consider, ghost hunting involves quite a bit of walking and standing around; opt for warmth and comfort.
4, Food.
Many ghost hunting teams provide hot drinks but it might not always be possible as some venues do not have electric power – check if you need to take a flask.  Food, or snack, wise; unless it is stated on your ticket that food is provided don’t count on it being.  To help keep the costs down many ghost hunting teams do not provide food.  Take you own, even a squashed cheese buttie tastes marvellous at 02.00hrs!  You’d be surprised how hungry you can get while ghost hunting; Ghost Encounters has an open biscuit box by the urn, and on a busy night we can go through four packets of chocolate biscuits, not counting other varieties.   
5, When there;
Don’t turn up drunk or smelling of drink; you will not get in.  The Public Liability insurance, which all good teams will have, will not cover you if you are drunk or if you smell or are under the influence of illegal drugs.  You will not get your ticket money back either.
Sign in – it’s a fire regulation.  During the night you will work in small teams, possibly on your own at times, and should for some reason the building have to be evacuated, you will want someone to know you are out safely.  Likewise, sign out.  Especially if you are going home before the end of the ghost hunt, it saves people having to go and look for you possibly at the risk of their own lives.  We like to hunt for ghosts, not make new ones.
Only smoke in the designated area or face being asked to leave with no refund of money and possibly having to pay the fine for a false call out if the Fire brigade are involved. 
A good team will have a health and safety talk before the start of a ghost hunt; listen to it and comply with it; it is after all for your safety.  Always put your torch on before walking if the lights are off, and never run off screaming no matter what happens.  We would prefer it if you didn’t scream, leave that to the Most Haunted crew; in real life it means someone has to come and see what the matter is. 
For most of the night you will work in small teams with a Team Leader who is a member of, in our case, Ghost Encounters and Alone In The Dark Entertainment North West.  If you are feeling scared, or ill, etc., tell your Team Leader.  Ghost Encounters’ Team Leaders have radios on which they can call for first aid assistance, yes we also have trained First Aiders. 
Team Leaders for Ghost Encounters and Alone In The Dark Entertainment will never insist you take part in a particular activity but I would suggest you give it a go, then, should you decide it isn’t for you, drop out of the activity and just watch.  Some people don’t like using Talking/spirit/Ouija Boards but will happily do glass work; there is actually very little difference between the two!  If you are worried that ‘something might come through’ say so.  But isn’t that the whole point of what you go on a ghost hunt for?
If it does bother you most of the Talking Boards, (Ouija is a trademark registered to Hasbro – the makers of My Little Pony etc.,), that Ghost Encounters and Alone In The Dark Entertainment North West use  have been manufactured by either John Lysons or myself, and to my knowledge neither of us have been possessed!  Furthermore all Ghost Encounters and Alone In The Dark Entertainment North West Team Leaders know how to open Boards and close them down properly and will show you how to if you ask.
“But something might follow me home”.  This is highly unlikely.   Most ghosts are attached or attracted to the buildings and venues we visit not to us personally.  They have no reason to follow you home as they already are home.  I only know of two occasions when members of Ghost Encounters and Alone In The Dark Entertainment North West have been 'followed home' from ghost hunts, I’ll tell you about them another time. 
It is possible of course that you have brought a ghost with you, probably a former family member who either wishes to make contact if they can or just keep an eye on you, or even your Guardian Angel (if you believe in them).  Now they will follow you home because that’s how they got to the venue!

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