No one can enforce ghost hunting rules. Not for independent ghost hunters and ghost hunting teams, anyway.

Also, I cannot assume responsibility (or credit) for what happens during ghost hunts. Remember that ghosts aren’t as visible, dangerous and spectacular as the media portray them… but ghost hunting can be dangerous.

In my opinion, small and subtle things can startle you the most. For example, it’s not always the eerie moaning noises that will raise the hairs on the back of your neck, but the fact that the surroundings are far too quiet.

Never use movies or TV shows as guidelines for paranormal research. Never expect them to show what really goes on during ghost hunts, and don’t rigidly copy what they do.

Here are my strongest recommendations:

1. Above all, use your common sense.

2. Never go ghost hunting alone. Hunt with at least one companion. Generally, I recommend a minimum of four people. That way, you can split up to investigate a couple of different things, but never be alone.

3. Verify location, accessibility, safety, and related issues ahead of time. Check each site during daytime hours to identify parking, paths, and hazards. Carry a working flashlight, even during daytime ghost hunts.

4. Be sure you’re comfortable. Wear suitable clothing, including sturdy footwear. Don’t eat a heavy meal immediately before ghost hunting, but don’t arrive hungry, either. Do not drink alcohol or use recreational drugs before or during a ghost hunt.  (If you’re on medication that might impair your judgment, talk with your doctor about “hiking, after dark” and how risky that might be.)

5. Never trespass on private or posted property. Get clear and specific permission from the owners or authorities. If others have had problems with this, get permission in writing. (Bring your own form for the owner to sign. From my experience: it helps if you include a clause that frees them from all liabilities connected with your research.)

6. Leave immediately and cheerfully if the police or owners ask you to, even if the property is not posted. Provide photo ID if the police ask. Smiling helps.

7. If you become unreasonably frightened at any location — haunted or not — leave immediately. You don’t need an excuse. Always follow your gut instinct if you feel prompted to leave.

8. Remember, you have more to fear from the living than from the dead. Many haunted sites are isolated. They’re attractive to people engaged in illegal activities. Use caution.

9. As your mother taught you, never speak ill of the dead. Avoid sarcasm and jokes in haunted settings. Sometimes, angry spirits seem to “get even.”

10. Ghosts are not likely to follow you home. If you are frightened and leave a haunted location, the spirits generally do not go with you and they cannot affect your thoughts. (If something seems to follow you, it’s probably not a ghost.)

11. If you are troubled by unwanted thoughts after leaving a haunted location, relax. Eat some comfort food. Watch a happy movie or TV show. Talk about it with a friend who understands ghost hunting. Spend some time in a church. If the unwanted thoughts persist, see a professional for advice. (A minister or priest may be the best place to start.)

12. Ouija boards are not inherently evil. However, you don’t know who or what is directing the platen, and if the entity is lying.  In addition, Ouija boards and related devices have a high incidence of “opening a door” to unpleasant and dangerous entities. For those reasons, I recommend not using a Ouija board during investigations.

13. Never rely on mobile phones in haunted settings. Often, they won’t work. (Step across the street and the phone is likely to work again.)

14. Remember, you’re visiting a location that a ghost considers “home.” Be as polite as you would in someone else’s home.

15. Ghosts do not “possess” people without their consent. If someone or something seems to be taking control, tell it to stop. Put up your spiritual shields. Think rude thoughts at it, and generally picture yourself as a bigger bully than the spirit is. This does work in most cases.

However, if you – or someone you know – seems “possessed,” consult a member of the clergy, immediately. The problem may not be a ghost.

16. Generally, you cannot help a ghost. Most ghosts are tied to their earthly locations because they want to change something that happened in the past.

You can’t change the past, and most ghosts aren’t really interested in anything else. And frankly, some ghosts are like petulant children. They just like attention. Don’t take their ploys seriously.

If helping ghosts “cross over” is why you’re involved in ghost hunting, that’s a ministry. Keep that in mind, when working with a team that may not share your goals.

17. There are no documented cases of someone being seriously physically harmed by a ghost. If you’re worried about this, choose a different hobby. Ghost hunting should be fun.

18. It is reasonable to pay a fee to participate in a ghost hunting event or conference. However, on private ghost hunts, if someone is charging you money as if they’re providing a show… perhaps they are. Caveat emptor.

If you disagree with these guidelines, I urge you to create your own website and offer alternative opinions.

My opinions are based on over 30 years of paranormal research, but I don’t claim to “know it all,” and I welcome others’ opinions.

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