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What Are Escape Room Emergency Exits And Why Do You Need Them?

It's no mystery... escape rooms shouldn't be a deathtrap! Make sure you use one of these emergency exit ideas.
Then, read more escape room business tips here
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Not only do emergency exits keep your players safe, but they're required by law. So pay attention, this is important!

How Good Are You With Red Tape?

Planning a commercial escape room business is a blast! Who doesn't love brainstorming ideas - you'll have a mystery escape room, zombie escape rooms, and an Escape from Alcatraz escape room! You found a space, plotted your themes, and have the backers. Now you have to cut through the red tape. The most incredible escape of all!

Governments of all levels have requirements for any business that opens. You may need an occupational license, insurance, and all other types of government documents and permits. You also need to consider safety codes, fire codes, building codes, and Morse codes. You'll likely face multiple inspections from various agencies.

Yep... planning the escape rooms was the easy part! (Still think you have what it takes? I love it! More details here).

Make sure you have experts walk you through the process to ensure you don't commit any business-ending errors. We'll also try to help by providing some suggestions for essential escape room safety features, such as the emergency exit.
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The Emergency Exit for Mystery Escape Rooms (And Other Fun Places)

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Every escape room needs a players' emergency exit. This is not an exit onto the street. The emergency exit allows players to leave the game for any reason. Whether the power went out, they panicked, or nature came calling, players can exit the game.

Anyone utilizing the emergency exit forfeits their place in the game. They have to wait in the lobby for their friends to finish. Then, they sit at a corner of the dinner table, silent, head down, wishing they had not left the room as they hear the tales of glory from their escaped teammates.

Everyone knows that escape games lock players in (anyone who doesn't really needs to read up on this article). Players only escape by solving clues that eventually lead them to "escape to freedom," winning the game. An emergency exit allows the players to escape at any time, but going through that door loses the game. Players should avoid it at all costs.

As a commercial escape room owner, you have several ways you can lock players in while maintaining a legally compliant escape room.

#1 - Don't Lock The Door

KISS it. No, not the door. KISS means Keep It Simple, Stupid. This formula allows for only one inescapable conclusion to our emergency exit conundrum. Don't lock the door.

Brilliant, right? You walk out. The players are busy looking around to take in the room, deciding where to start, and regretting wearing open-toe shoes to King Tut's tomb. They won't notice that you didn't lock the door. They know that if they walk out, they're toast! That's all they need to know. You don't have to tell them about the bucket of Nickelodeon Slime waiting to fall on them when they exit.

Nothing can be safer than an unlocked door. There's no key, mechanism to jam, or circuit to fail. The players just turn the knob and walk out. In the event of an actual emergency, and not simply a couldn't-wait-potty-break, nothing could be safer.
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#2 - Use An Emergency Key

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Hang a key by the door. Explain to the players that if, for any reason, they need to leave the game, they can use the key to unlock the door. Be very clear — the key is not part of the game! They cannot use it to escape! If they leave the room by this method, they are out of the game.

In some jurisdictions, this may not be a permissible emergency exit. Always check your local codes before adopting any emergency exit strategy. You may also want to check with your lawyer, safety manager, accountant, and mother-in-law. Just to be safe.

#3 - Attract Safe Exits With Magnetic Locks

Magnetic locks automatically open if the building loses power. This allows the players to safely exit to the hall to make their way to the outside of the building.

However, magnetic locks only work for power outages. If a player needs to leave the room for other reasons, such as too many soft drinks at lunch, you will need to devise a system to allow them to exit. We prefer one simple solution, so magnetic locks may not be your best option.
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#4 Emergency Exit Button To Allow Players To Leave The Escape Room

Everyone knows what the big red button means. Press it, the door opens, and you're out! This method probably requires the least explanation. The red button by the door also alerts players that the door is not part of the game.

Especially in a game with multiple rooms, make sure to point out the exit door's location to all players. While it may be evident while they are in the room, the players may forget where they saw the button (they have a lot on their minds, you know).

Other Safety Considerations For Your Commercial Escape Room

The safety features you need will depend on the codes in your location. However, many features are standard across almost all jurisdictions. You will need to determine how to incorporate the following safety features into your build-out:

   • Fire suppression equipment. Your code may require your escape room to have sprinklers, fire extinguishers, or it may require both! You will also need smoke and fire detectors, most likely in every room.

   Easy to find exits. Emergency exits from the building should be well-lit and obvious. A panicking customer should be able to find them without too much difficulty. If you have the ability, placing lighting on the floor to lead people to building exits could help them escape. You can also have flight attendants explain the exits to them before starting the game. In the unlikely event of a water landing, the mummy is no threat.

   Good ventilation. The players will be "locked" in the mystery escape room for an hour. You want to ensure that the room is comfortable and not stuffy or stale, as this may trigger claustrophobia in some guests.

   Surveillance systems. Every game room needs them so the gamemaster can monitor the game, provide hints, and ensure that nothing gets destroyed. However, these surveillance systems could also help identify players in distress or allow gamemasters to help people escape to safety.

   Floor wardens. Your employees should be trained in emergency response. This will allow them to ensure that the building is empty if an emergency arises. They know the area, but the players don't. Your employees may be the only way a player can safely leave the mystery escape room and the building.
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Let The Games Begin!

Winning at Escape Room Z
Good luck with your commercial mystery escape room! 

We're sure you will choose the emergency exits and other safety features best suited to your business. Hopefully, they'll never be needed, and that all of your players will escape from the game and not the building!

(And hey, if you're looking for some help crafting your escape room games, check out our advanced tips for clever designers.)

Not Sure If You're Ready For All This? Try Running A Game At Home First:

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