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Setting up for a ghost hunt.
We try and inform and advise, and share what we know with you, none of us started out as experts in this field, we research and find our way around this complex world of the paranormal, its not a secret sociey, and we belive in best practice to share our knowledge with you, what is the point of keeping everything a secret, when our game plan is the same as everyone else's, to find the absolute proof that their is an afterlife. So below is a short list of what we do and equipment we use, its not an exhaustive list, and the range of equipment out there is continuously growing. Take a look at our equipment page for a range of the gear we currently use, we are always adding new kit, so our equipment list is growing all the time.
Pick your Location
You can choose a known haunted location where it has been reported of being haunted, ideal for your first ever hunt, or testing your equipment in a known haunted location. Also most of the groundwork for researching the history has been mostly done for you as well.
Paranormal activity can occur in all sorts of locations.
Hotels, cemeteries, prisons, hospitals, private homes, parks, bridges, scene of accidents, major disasters or murders, etc. Anywhere that residual energy might dwell.
What kind of ghosts do you want to encounter?
Lost souls, murderers, accident victims, demons? Playful spirits or the really angry ones who will push you down a stairwell if given a chance? Pick a location where reports include the type of energy you’d like to encounter or investigate.
3. Do Your Research
Once you’ve chosen a location, do some research. You must know what to expect or what you’re dealing with so you know who to bring on your team, what equipment you’ll need, what permissions you need to get, and what to have on hand in case of emergency. Does your ghost appear at a certain time of day or night? Make sure you investigate at that time. Does your ghost appear only in certain hotel rooms? Make sure you can book that hotel room. Is your ghost vocal? Make sure you bring something to record it. You don’t want to waste time investigating at the wrong time or place or in the wrong way. Remember to correctly document your evidence as well, times, location, temperature, what equipment you used, you get the picture, well documented evidence is more credible than just to say what you heard, felt, saw etc.
4. Get Permission
If you’re investigating on private property, ensure you obtain permission from the building/land owner to do your investigation. You will be trespassing if you don’t, and if you cause damage to the property, you will be liable. If you have to break in to get into your location, you’re doing it wrong! It’s not worth the risk. Your location of the old abandoned hotel is safe, but you don’t know about hidden hazards (rotten floor beams/boards, asbestos and other unseen nasties that could hurt or even kill you. If you want to get started quickly, investigate a public park ( Cannock Chase Woods, Nottingham Forest, Pendle Hill, etc..) or other public location where ghosts have been sighted or reported. Just be sure to respect the property, don’t damage the location by taking keep sakes, and spoiling the location for someone else, take your rubbish home with you and leave nothing behind.
5. Assemble a Good Team
The right team is vital to have a successful and fruitful hunt. Like us it could all be family members, or like minded people that you form a group with, so its important that you can all get along. You will need people in the following positions, try not to dictate, but draw on peoples skills, video editing for example, we could all do it, but if you have a whiz kid, utilise that person for this role, also remember that one person may be able to fill multiple positions.
Researcher – the person willing to surf the internet, scan reports, get details, make phone calls, and secure permission to get onto the site to investigate. You can have more than one person doing this role, but ensure that only one person acts as the telephonist or you will just annoy the person/s you are trying to get info from and lose your location.
Lead Investigator – this is the person who will lead the investigation. They will decide where the team goes and when, how the equipment is divvied up and set up, and will generally make decisions regarding the safety and efficacy of the team. Often its is normally the lead investigator who will attempt to communicate with the ghosts/spirits, this prevents over talking and if you are videoing your hunt it stops your production looking like a car crash.
Audio/Visual Techs – you need people who can take digital photos, hold the video cameras, hold the digital audio recorders, work the EMF detectors, monitor the temperature, and document all the goings on during the investigation. I would assign 2-4 people to handle the equipment depending on what you’ve got going. Downloading and analysing all the data can be done by them or anyone else on the team.
Intuitive – Don’t forget to bring your blood hounds! (Do not rely on mediums/psychic evidence alone, always try and prove the existence of the paranormal with your equipment). Bring along a psychic or two to help you pinpoint areas of unearthly activity. It will save you a ton of time and energy. Sure you have equipment, but are you using it in the room with the activity? Or are you wandering around 50 rooms of a hotel looking for one ghost? Intuitive s will be especially helpful to have around if you want to help cross a spirit over.
Someone said to me once “They are like canaries in the mines… if you see your intuitive s running away from something, you should run too”. If you feel the need to run because your scared, you’re in the wrong business, what's the point of going to a haunted location to find evidence of the afterlife, and when you find it you get scared and run away from it, don’t come on my ghost hunts if you run, you will be on your own, alone and afraid in the dark.
Intuitive s will be able to communicate with the ghosts and have a better chance of calling an entity forth. I prefer to use a spirit box like the SB7 or the SB11.
Safety/Tactical Guy – this is the person who checks the area of investigation for safety hazards and comes equipped with items to help the team stay safe or get through obstacles or barriers. They check the area ahead of time and mark off areas too dangerous to tread through. They should also be capable of carrying an injured person, or hauling someone on the team up or down a hole with rope. This is the person that is responsible for the team’s safety.
The Banker - Ghost hunting can be expensive, not just the equipment, but the cost of your location can be expensive. If you are a team of friends you can all chip in to cover the costs, this makes it slightly cheaper, so a team of six at a location that costs £300 will only cost you £50 each.
This next one is totally optional if you want to create a video for production and show a balanced view, me personally, take me at my word, I do not pretend to find evidence or fake it, and I try to debunk the natural from the super-natural, the normal from the para-normal. Skeptics or Science-types – In addition to your intuitives, you may also want to bring along a skeptic or scientific person. Don’t they cancel each other out? No. The skeptic is there to scientifically investigate reported phenomenon to see if it can be replicated in an earthly way. Skeptics are also the last to become possessed or influenced by negative entities since they are not opening themselves up to try to communicate with the ghosties. A good skeptic is like your grounding tool. When all your psychics drop, the skeptic will be standing there healthy and well saying, “What the heck just happened to our psychics? I see nothing.”
6. Comic Relief – It helps to have a sense of humour, if something scary happens, once all the tension has gone you can always have a laugh about it to help calm the nerves, (especially if you have someone like Yvette Fielding in your group).
7. Use the Proper Equipment
Taking along as much equipment as you can will help you verify the presence of the paranormal. Here is a list of items you should endeavour to bring, and their function.
But first a short list of the minimum you actually need,
A) Digital stills camera-(a cheap point and shoot with a flash) will do just as good a job as an expensive bridge/SLR camera. A sony handycam with nightshot if you can get one or its equivalent so you can get those infra red videos in the pitch black, a cheap EVP recorder, £30 in argos for a voice recorder, and if you want an EMF meter you can pick up a cheap one up on ebay for £10, also a hand held thermometer if you want, note book and pen, and a torch, now you are ready to go ghost investigating.
Digital Stills Camera – Take a lot of photos of your haunted location. You never know what will show up on your photos that you can’t see with your eyes. Literally take hundreds of shots. There should be at least one person snapping photos every few seconds in each location. If someone is engaging with an entity or ghost, take a ton of photos of the person and their surrounding area.
Digital Voice Recorder – If you want to capture EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) then you want to have a digital recorder going at all times. Give a recorder to your lead investigator, your intuitive, and possibly your skeptic. To capture good EVP, everyone must stop all motion, someone will ask a question, and wait at least 5 seconds for an answer. You may not be able to hear anything, but your recorder might. You’ll analyse it later.
Infrared Cameras – If you have the budget for it, bring along some infrared cameras which are good at picking up ghosts in the dark. You can set them up in stationary locations around a single room, or have your audio visual person carry them while you walk. Decide on what camera you use, small handycam IR cameras as they are lightweight, easy to point and shoot, and have adequate IR lighting.
Full Spectrum Cameras - As technology improves, you can now obtain cameras that look through the whole light spectrum, from ultra violet, to visible light and then in to the infra red spectrum of light, you will also need UV light as well as IR lights to get the best out of these types of camera.
Video Camera – If you’re investigating during the day or in lots of light, video your investigation. You never know what you’ll pick up on the camera. Plus if something really cool happens, like a brick gets thrown at your intuitive’s head, you’ll want to capture that evidence on film!
DVR or CCTV system - These are ideal yet can be bought inexpensively these days, you can opt for 4 - 8 - 16 camera systems, so you can set up multiple locked off cameras at your location so you have a synchronised camera system capturing every second of your investigation. These can help verify corroborate your evidence, or debunk something you thought was paranormal. Just remember if you do an 8 hour investigation with 8 cameras you will have 56 hours of video footage to look at afterwards. You will also need to have an electrical supply to power your DVR system, also you could have this monitored by a team member through out the night.
Go-Pro cameras - or a cheaper equivalent - these little cameras are cool, you can wear them on your body with the right attachments, they are super clear video images in 1080p or HD recording, they are easy to convert to full spectrum, you can also leave these in areas as your locked off camera and retrieve later, easy to download and quite cheap to buy, their is a plethora of accessories to buy and use with your Go-Pro cams.
Laptop computer - You can bring this with you for downloading your photos and EVP recordings and analyse on site if you wish, or just to download and store your findings until you get home to analyse their, either way it frees up your cameras memory if you are killing it with your photography. You can do so much with a laptop and cheap(ish) to buy, you can clean up EVP, store your photos, store your digital video evidence and edit it. You can even go Live to your followers on Youtube and facebook now, just hook up a night vision camera to your laptop and go out live, you will obviously need to be hooked up to wifi for this, or tethered to another device to get your live show out there.
EMF Detector – This nifty device will tell you if there is unusual electromagnetic activity in the area, which some say is a sure sign of paranormal activity. You can buy an EMF detector on line. Research the different frequencies that are detected and decide which one will serve you best.
Thermometers – Ghosts often bring their own cold front. Check the chill and record your data. See if you can correlate it with the other information you’re picking up. Use a digital room thermometer for taking the ambient temperature before during and after your investigation, record your finding, be careful of using the hand held laser thermometers you can buy, as they will pick up the surface temperature of what you point it at, and not the ambient air temperature.
Motion Sensors – Ghosts can trip motion sensors, sometimes. They can also launch items across a room that might be picked up by a motion sensor. Motion sensors can also debunk people in an area they shouldn’t be in, or saboteurs, motion sensing cameras sometimes also called outback cameras can be used to capture an image of who why or what set the motion sensor off.
When you are getting serious, or just want some extra tech, you can add further more specialist equipment to your inventory, like, REM-PODS, OVILUS, SB-7 SB-11 spirit box, laser grids, SLS camera, EM-Pumps, REM-Pods, their is lots of kit out their, most you have to import from America, but just watch how much you pay for something, their is some good looking gear out their that costs upwards of £100 to £1000 to buy, yet costs just $20 to make, and seriously, some of his stuff you can make yourself, and you don’t need to be a tech savvy genius to make it.
8. Think about safety
In addition to equipment designed to nab your ghosts, you must also think about personal safety equipment. Here is a not exhaustive list of items to consider bringing along on an investigation. Every team member is responsible for their own safety, and the safety of others, if you have one, your security/tactical person should manage and inventory these items and give them out to appropriate personnel.
Torches (Flash-lights for our American friends)– If you’re trudging around in the dark, you’ll need some light. You can use hand held flash-lights or headlamps. If you’re using infra-red cameras, you should really use red lights or fit red filters to your torch, this stops you whiting out your video camera and your potential video evidence, and also retain your own night vision.
Walkie Talkies – If your team splits up, it’s vital to be able to reach them in an emergency and to check in. Make sure your walkie talkies have a long range and don’t pick up interference from other devices.
Glow Sticks – On large area or tunnels. These are great for lining a path back to safety. Drop a few of these on the ground if you’re in a dark maze-like environment. If you’re running (for some reason) and you need to find the exit fast, these are probably your best bet. Plus ghosts can take out electrical equipment but I have yet to meet a ghost who is a match for a glow stick!
Door Stops – It’s a good idea to prop open doors so they don’t get mysteriously slammed or locked on you, (Do Not Prop open FIRE DOORS), preventing you from getting out in a hurry.
9. Proper Attire – Know what kind of terrain you’ll be walking around in and dress for safety and comfort. Will there be mud? Loose floor boards? Wood with nails sticking out of it? You should wear good boots or close-toed shoes (no heels ladies). Have jackets with zippered pockets, or a tactical vest with pouches, long sleeves, gloves, etc. Dust masks, respirators to cover your face if the environment will be dusty or filled with airborne nasties.
Batteries – Where there are dead people you’ll find lots of dead batteries. Investigations can end quickly if all your brand new batteries mysteriously get discharged. Have tons of back up batteries for all your equipment. The same goes with your rechargeable batteries, have spares and ensure you are fully charged the day or night before your hunt.
First-Aid Kit – Sprained ankles, bonks on the head, cuts, bruises, and wounds can certainly occur during an investigation. Better safe than sorry! It could be a while before you can get a fallen comrade to a hospital, and better still negate the trip to a hospital to patch someone up. Be sure to bring plasters, bandages, wound closures, anti-bacterial wipes, antiseptic sprays, antibacterial ointment, burn gel, slings etc, the list isn’t exhaustive, just take what you think you need, and what you can use, and can cope with.
Food and Water – Keep your team hydrated and energized. Water bottles for everyone and energy bars to keep them going. Often investigations happen long after dinner. Skulking around a prison can sure make you hungry! Be sure you’ve got enough food to handle emergencies, especially if you are somewhere remote.
Mobile Phones – Charged mobile phones you can use to call for help are essential.
10. Go in strong.
Be sure you’re well rested before starting your hunt. Tired people are more easily influenced by dark forces, or tiredness induced hallucinations. Be sure you’re healthy and well. No drinking of alcohol before or during an investigation. Stay sharp and in control. No drugs of any kind either. Stay alert and in your right mind. If you are driving the team back or driving a car, ensure you do not drive tired after an exhaustive night of ghost hunting.
11. Never hunt alone.
This is super important. The buddy system rules when hunting ghosts. No one goes anywhere alone, unless its a controlled experiment/lone vigil where the place you are alone, other people then know where you are, don’t wonder off during your vigil though? If you’re alone you could be easily injured or influenced and there will be no one around to help you. If you’re with a team of people and you break off into groups, make sure there are at least 2 people in a group.
12. Know the signs of possession.
You might think it can’t happen to you, but it can. If you’re stirring a hornet’s nest of haunted hotels or houses, you can get stung! You’re opening yourself up to the paranormal, basically inviting it to show itself, so don’t be surprised if it latches on to someone in your group. It’s important to know the normal behaviour of everyone on the team so you’ll know if they start acting strangely.
Signs that someone is being negatively affected by something paranormal include: getting sick or nauseous, feeling dizzy, acting confused, unable to speak, breathing strangely or irregularly, sudden bursts of unusual emotion (sadness or anger for example), swearing, attacking a member of the team, hurting themselves, speaking in odd languages or in an odd way, eyes rolled back in their heads, overt sexual behaviour, thrashing around, or passing out.
Always keep an eye on your team mates. Remove anyone who appears to be acting strangely. Sometimes the act of removing them from the area is enough to bring them back to themselves, and sometimes you need to help them come back. This is when you use love and humour. You may also need a strong voice to tell the offending entity to back the heck off!
Learn how to analyse your data:
The more you do, the better you become at doing this, you get better at debunking what is not paranormal as well.
When the investigation is over, the real work begins. It can take many hours/days/weeks to fully analyse all the data from all your equipment. You’ve got to correlate what your psychics received with what the equipment picked up. You’ve got to scan photos for unusual or anomalous images. Look for orbs in your photos. Look for dark shapes or shadows that have no physical correlations. Put your thermal readings together with your EMF readings.
Listen to the digital recordings for any EVP’s. Try to piece it all together and look for evidence. This can be painstaking and requires a very discerning ear and eye. Working with a partner or having everyone on the team take a look at the data can be very helpful so you don’t miss anything.
Document your information together chronologically, this will help piece your night of hunting together, and something that you didn’t understand on the night, may make sense when you put all your evidence together, it will also help with credibility of evidence, or even debunk what you thought was paranormal as normal.
Bloody hell, I hear you say, that’s a bit over the top, all I want to do is have a bit of fun and go and see if I can find a ghost, seriously guys, this is just a guide, not a definitive list of do’s and don’ts, use the equipment you already have or just buy the basics, if you just want the ghost experience, just go with nothing but yourself and a friend. We use the equipment as we want to show and validate our evidence to you. If it was just for fun we wouldn't bother with half of the stuff I have covered in this segment.
Be safe, have fun, and get on out there! There’s a whole other world to explore. Get your equipment, your team, your gear, and get hunting.