Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Gearing Up for a Paranormal Investigation

This weekend my ghost hunting team has a residential investigation. While residential details such as names and locations are kept confidential, I will be allowed to share general information, such as how many and what type, if any, of EVP (electronic voice phenomena), strange photos, sounds, and/or other phenomena we experience, as long as it doesn't compromise the identities and privacy of our clients. Meanwhile, I thought I'd share some of the things we do to prepare.

First of all, and I stress this because it's very important, our team never charges a fee for investigations. They are done on our own time and at our own expense. Many of us hold down full-time jobs, which is why we do our investigations mainly on weekends. While the majority of us are in this because we love it or because we've had past experiences we couldn't explain and we're trying to find evidence, we also enjoy helping people. Especially when someone doesn't feel safe in their own home. It's satisfying to leave a residence, knowing you've helped a family feel at ease in their surroundings.

So, after a potential client notifies us that he/she is having problems with unusual activity, whether it's a private home or public property, we generally follow the same rules. One of our team members contacts this potential client by phone and conducts an interview, asking a number of questions about the location, persons involved, and the activity. If after that, there seems to be legitimate activity and the client still wants an investigation, we send out information to the rest of the team. Usually, we meet the client in person several days or weeks for another interview before we conduct an investigation, but this isn't always the case.

With a public area renowned for activity, we sometimes initiate contact with the caretakers and ask permission to do a nighttime investigation on the property. Sometimes they agree and other times not. According to our team director, cemetery caretakers are notorious for turning down investigators due to fear of vandalism or other mishaps, so we assure them that we are an all-adult team with proper insurance coverage. This doesn't guarantee we will get in, but it does help. Hotels are sometimes a great place to start and are a lot of fun, especially when you're still training. If they advertise strange activity as part of their charm, they sometimes hold public tours and/or investigations and are more open to teams coming in.

Whatever the location, next comes the preparation. One of our team members is chosen to do an investigation of the property. For this upcoming residential investigation and a previous one, I was in charge of doing this. A property investigation includes using the internet, library, and news resources to look into property details - how old it is, who or what companies inhabited it over the years, any tragedies that occurred there, public reports of past activity, etc... I use the information from the homeowner and go from there. I have used all of these resources, as well as census records (if the property is old enough) to get information on a place. Census records are only available up to 1930 so those records wouldn't be relevant to any property built after that time period. The home we're investigating now is newer than that date, so I didn't bother with census records this time.

A few days before the investigation, we have to make sure our equipment is ready. Our director keeps the team's more expensive equipment like digital video and infrared cameras, but we each have smaller personal items we use. This includes handheld cameras, EMF (electromagnetic field) detectors, laser grid light pens, music, toys, and whatever else we might need or think will help us out. We test our equipment to make sure it's working, charge up all batteries, or purchase new ones if they're not re-chargeable, put everything into bags/carts for easy carrying. We also bring along water, munchies, toilet paper (for public areas with port-a-potties), and first aid items. You just never know what you'll need.

When going into an unfamiliar area at night, especially outside, it's a good idea to be cautious and have protection. Humans aren't the only animals who can cause trouble. Here in Arizona, we have coyotes, bobcats, wolves, rattlesnakes, and other dangerous wildlife. While an uncommon occurrence when you have a large group loaded up with cameras and other recording equipment, problems can occur and precautions are necessary. A current or former police officer on the team is a wonderful bonus. These people are well-trained and certified to carry a weapon and are trained for dangerous situations. If someone on the team carries a weapon, we must make sure the place we are going to investigate allows them on the premises. Some public places have their own security teams that parole at night, so it's a good idea to meet with them and let them know about the investigation.

Once we arrive at our destination, usually while the sun is still up, we do a sweep. This means we take cameras and EMF detectors and shoot two photos of each area we are planning to investigate. The two photos are done for comparison in case something appears in one but not the other. We also use EMF meters in the sweep to locate outlets, appliances, computers, etc...that put out electrical fields. This way we can discount those areas when we do the actual investigation. And we make notes of any anomalies, where we get electrical activity on the meters but can't locate a source of that activity. Someone on the team also makes notes and draws a rough sketch of each room we will be investigating and where the activity has been reported. This helps us decide where to focus our investigation and the best areas to put the equipment.

After that, we set up and begin the great quest for ghosts.

Stay tuned for the analysis and general results our next investigation night.

Happy reading and happy hunting!

1 comment:

Dana's Blah Blah Blog said...

Unfortunately, this upcoming residential investigation was cancelled due to the client's family emergency. We are in the process of trying to reschedule. Yep, cancellations happen more than we like to admit.

On the bright side, I have another ghost hunt scheduled for early November, so I will definitely blog about that one when we're done.

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