Survey on the safety of exiting escape rooms in case of emergency completed
The Ministry of the Interior requested local rescue departments to conduct a survey on the safety of exiting so-called escape rooms in their area. The survey was carried out in cooperation with the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency TUKES that monitors the safety of consumer services in Finland. The motivation for the survey was a fire in an escape room in Poland in the beginning of January that killed 5 people and left one severely injured.
In the survey, the safety of exiting the premises of approximately one hundred escape rooms all over Finland was investigated. Serious deficiencies were observed in one out of five places of business (19 in total). These significantly hinder exiting the premises or make it impossible for the customer to exit by themselves altogether. Serious deficiencies include the lack of exits, doors that open only with a separate key or cases in which the customers are required to break structures in order to exit the premises in the case of an emergency. Most of the serious deficiencies were rectified quickly. In these cases, the rescue officer ordered the deficiencies to be rectified before operations could continue.
Minor deficiencies were observed in approximately half of the escape rooms. These included inadequate emergency exit signs, the lack of instructions or the exit door being difficult to open. In the case of minor deficiencies, the safety officers gave the operators an order to rectify the deficiencies by a fixed date.
It has been unclear to escape room operators if customers can in reality be locked inside a room during the playing of the escape room game. It has also been unclear how capable customers actually are of removing obstacles from escape routes in an emergency situation. Exiting the premises may also be slowed down by closed spaces inside the escape rooms or structures that the customers climb to complete a task in the game. These spaces and structures must also be designed in a way that they can be exited safely.
According to the feedback from rescue departments, the survey was very necessary. Escape rooms as a service to consumers is a relatively new concept. For this reason, escape rooms have not been automatically monitored by rescue departments. An escape room demands a sense of playfulness from the customer. Even though getting out of the room depends on solving problems, in reality, it is possible to exit the room easily in the event of a fire or other type of emergency situation. The survey significantly improved the ability of escape room operators to conduct the games safely taking into regard the actual safety of exiting the premises.
Senior Officer Jarkko Häyrinen, Ministry of the Interior, tel +358 (0)29 548 8436, [email protected]
Senior Officer Petteri Mustonen, Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes), tel +358 (0)29 505 2099, [email protected]