Are Escape Rooms Safe?
When I mention that I am starting an escape room business to someone who has never heard about them before, they tend to think that I am starting a business that makes panic rooms for rich people. Once I clarify that escape rooms are not panic rooms – but rather a room you get locked into and have to solve a series of puzzles and riddles to get out of – they look a bit horrified.
The idea of being locked in a room seems to terrify many people. After seeing many scared faces, I have now adjusted my explanation of escape rooms to say that “a group of people voluntarily gets locked into a room where they have to solve a series of puzzles and riddles to get out… for fun,” which at least keeps the conversation going and people don’t slowly back away in terror.
What people really want to know is if they are safe. So here are a few basics of what an escape room should have to make sure guests have a good time in a safe environment.
There will be plenty of locks throughout the escape game, but a lock does NOT need to be put on the main door. Players should always have access to an exit. Whether that means the door never locks or there is an emergency release button for electromagnetic locks, players access to an exit needs to be clear and simple. This is pretty standard now as fire marshals have made it clear that actually locking people in a room is a big no-no, but when escape rooms first started this was not the case!
Ideally escape games should have multiple rooms so that players can really get immersed in the game and feel like they are progressing. But having many rooms can also be disorienting, which is why it is important for escape rooms to have video monitoring. Each game should have an employee monitoring it at all times to make sure everything is going smoothly. If people start to seem disoriented, panicked or confused, the game master can quickly step in and check that everything is okay. It also helps ensure that props are not used inappropriately. Perhaps a screw driver is part of a puzzle. Having a good game monitor will make sure that no one thinks that the screw driver should be used to dismantle an outlet or something like that.
Having a good audio system is equally important to having a good video system. Not only can the game monitor watch everything that is happening, but the monitor can also help players in real time. Whether that means stopping someone from doing something stupid that could cause harm, or being available for guests to ask questions, the audio capabilities are an important part of game safety.
Few people truly like rules, but they’re there for safety. A good escape room will have enough rules in place to protect their guests – even if it means upsetting a guest or two. Throwing boxes to try to open them. Climbing on props. Playing intoxicated. It’s all happened. It’s not fun for other players, and it can be dangerous. It’s why a responsible escape room will enforce rules to protect the safety of their players.
Like any experience, if done properly there are no safety concerns that come with escape rooms. And for the people who say, “I could never play an escape room. I’m claustrophobic!” You’re missing the point. Great games aren’t small. They’re immersive and exciting. Our Amazon Survival game, for instance, is nearly 800 sq ft – the size of some small houses! The point isn’t to lock you in a small space but rather challenge you with creative puzzles.
Ultimately, escape rooms are a very safe form of entertainment. Good game design should be what gets players’ hearts racing, not the thought of being locked in a room!