Haunted houses may be a little safer this year.
The city is considering new regulations that would require wider hallways, more fire safety, evacuation plans and criminal background checks of the owners.
Wichita City Council members will vote on the stricter rules and increased permit fees Tuesday.
The regulations haven't changed much through the years, said Kurt Schroeder, superintendent of the Office of Central Inspection. But Schroeder said he's not aware of any injuries.
Instead, the proposed changes were spurred by a resident's concerns.
Under the proposed changes, hallways and mazes in haunted houses would have to be 42 inches wide instead of 24 inches.
Handrails would be required on stairwells with more than three risers.
Alarm systems and public announcement systems would have to be installed.
Open flames and space heaters would be banned.
"We think it probably increases fire safety because we've enhanced standards," Schroeder said.
The required insurance coverage for injury or death would be raised, and the city would conduct background checks on anyone who owns more than a quarter of the business.
Sex offenders or anyone with a felony conviction wouldn't be licensed. And those who have been convicted of drug offenses, prostitution, public indecency or weapons charges in the past three years would be denied a license.
The move would increase the application fee from $50 to $100, and would charge $250 for an annual license.
It would increase fines for those who break the rules from $100 to $500, which is similar to other permit violations.
Sam Cohlmia, operations manager of the House of Terrors, was one of about a dozen haunted house operators the city invited to review the proposal.
He said his haunted house would have likely met almost all of the proposed requirements last year.
The House of Terrors is about 23,000 square feet and has four areas that are designed mostly for the high school and older crowd — though there's no age limit.
"It really didn't faze us too much," he said. "It's probably a good thing for the industry as a whole."
He said employees are trained for emergencies and they have announcement systems to alert people if needed.
None of the proposed changes will have much effect on how scary haunted houses are, he said.
"Obviously, confined spaces scare people," he said. "But if it's decorated with the right scenery and decor, we'll be all right."