Are You Really Locked in an Escape Room?

2021.01.14.

The Quick Answer is "No".

When you first read about or even visit an escape room game, you might be mistaken in your belief that you're going to be locked in. Using real locks. And you'll remain locked up until you either solve the clues and make an escape, or the time runs down and the game master then comes and releases you. Not only would detaining you like that be highly illegal but also would break every health and safety law ever written.

 All modern escape rooms have a facility whereby the players can free themselves. This is especially important if you take into consideration things like emergency safety and fire hazards. On the whole, there are several ways by which you can make your way to an emergency exit. 

Types of Emergency Exits

If it's your first time visiting a real bricks-and-mortar escape room it important that one of your first questions is about the fire exits. If the company wants to lock you in without access to an emergency exit, then we suggest that you take your business elsewhere and report them to the authorities. In January 2019, a fire in an escape room in the northern Polish town of Koszalin claimed the lives of five teenage girls. The event had a huge impact on the industry which, to its credit was quick to ensure that all health and safety regulations were bought up to date. To that end, you'll be hard pushed to find a locked door in any escape room game anywhere in the western world. 
 


In Reality There Are No Locks

This means that the door to your room is always open. You could come and go as you please, though that might affect the gameplay. The game does require some suspension of disbelief. So in the same manner you know that a flesh-eating zombie isn't coming down the darkened corridor, you'll also know that the "locked" door that needs you to discover a key to open, is in reality, unlocked at all times. The game master will explain this clearly to all players before the game begins. He will also point out that using this knowledge is not the way to win the game.

To Exit, Please Push

Probably the most common type of lock you'll come across in today's escape room games is the Mag-lock. This stands for "magnetic lock and they use an electromagnet to secure the doors shut. Should the power shut off, then they open automatically. By each door, they'll be a large button that will also release the lock.

Many escape rooms use magnetic locks, also known as Mag-locks. Mag-locks use an electromagnet to hold a door shut. In this case, the locks should open automatically if power is cut to them. There will also be a big button near the door that will release the lock. These types of locks are now the industry standard to the point that these types of locks are the go-to standard for designers when putting together a new escape room game.

The Emergency Key

Some rooms might hang an emergency key by a doorknob. This is not the ideal solution and, in truth, we're unsure as to the legality of such a system. Though it does provide a means whereby players can free themselves, we don't endorse this. Not only might players misplace the key thinking it's part of the gameplay, but also in an emergency, it's all too easy for the key to be dropped. The time needed and coordination for the key and lock to function is unacceptable for us. 

How Did We Get Here

When escape rooms first began, there was little thought given over to things like player safety. But the owners of escape room games are not fools and quickly realized that locking customers in with real locks could pose a serious safety hazard should something untoward happen. As you'll find today, many games were situated in basements. Not only did these locations add to the overall atmosphere of many game narratives, but from a business perspective, these locations were much cheaper in terms of rent.

Following The Law

In most municipalities throughout the west, some serious laws forbid businesses to lock in their customers. Whether it's the fire code or health and safety, you can't do it. On a practical level, it's creating unnecessary danger. Then there's the business insurance. They would not be happy to find locked doors blocking the means of a quick exit to the emergency exits. 

Another factor that has changed the way businesses treat their players is that today's escape room games are based more on going on a quest, than simply finding your way out of a locked room. So in many ways, modern games progress without the need for locked rooms. As we previously mentioned, if you ever come across an escape room that locks the doors, then save your money and take your business to a company that recognizes the importance of following all safety and fire protocols. 

Ask About Safety Procedures 

As you'll be entering an unfamiliar space, often made up of separate rooms, darkened corridors, and hiding places, it's essential that you ask and then fully understand the emergency routes out of the building. Every escape room business like ExitTheRoom will allow plenty of time for the game master to explain the emergency drill before the game commences. We have yet to find a modern escape room without all the legal requirements in regards to health and safety. But for the practicalities, you must always ask. Once you're secure in the knowledge of the emergency procedures, then you'll be able to concentrate on playing the games. 
Be safe and have a great time. 
 

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