RISEUP’S 10 COMMANDMENTS OF PARANORMAL INVESTIGATION BY TOM STEWART AND KEN DE COSTA          Thanks to popular paranormal reality TV shows like Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, and a host of others, popular interest in paranormal phenomena has dramatically increased over the past decade. Forming or joining “ghost hunting” groups has leaned more toward "trendy" than an actual scientific endeavor and the craving to investigate sometimes leads to individuals and groups putting themselves into precarious and at times dangerous situations. Some of the new generation of ‘investigators’ are young and inexperienced and sometimes compromise safety while trying to imitate their television idols. The fact is, while most of these new ghost hunting shows are fun to watch - they aren’t accurately depicting the many potential dangers and safety issues that are involved in paranormal investigation.        At the time this article was written, a young woman in Toronto was killed when she fell from the beam of a building that she and a friend were investigating. The building was old and gothic-looking and was alleged to be the scene of a murder many years ago, but there were no reports of any paranormal activity there and the two placed themselves in potential peril trying to conduct their own search for spirits that may not even have existed there!      As more and more people around the world involve themselves in the paranormal investigation craze, we’re seeing a corresponding rise in reports of deaths, injuries and arrests because of careless investigative practices, most disturbingly with younger people searching for a vicarious thrill. Many disregard or simply do not take the time to read through the published articles and advice on safety one can find on many responsible groups' websites. General Internet searches yield very little to provide adequate information regarding the dangers and safety precautions that should be considered when conducting paranormal investigations.       In the interest of people's well-being and a more enjoyable and successful experience, here are some things to keep in mind when exploring in the dark for ghosts.     GHOST HUNTING VS. PARANORMAL INVESTIGATION      Understand that "ghost hunting" and "paranormal investigation" are two separate entities. Ghost hunting is a manufactured media term which centers around the search for places that may appear to contain paranormal activity. Paranormal investigation deals with responding to reported or documented cases of unusual phenomena. Driving around in your car randomly stopping at unchartered, creepy- looking locations to find ghosts is the primary cause of potential problems as you generally are walking into a place with no planning, research or scouting involved. LONE WOLF SYNDROME      Probably the number one rule in investigation is to never go it alone. Whether indoors, outdoors, daytime, or night time, you should always investigate with at least one other person and work together. There are many potential dangers involved in ghost hunting, and they drastically increase if you attempt it by yourself. From a strictly practical point of view, it also helps your investigation if one person can corroborate what the other sees or experiences and it makes your claims or evidence more credible. The "buddy system" is the best way to avoid physical and psychological damage while exploring potentially haunted areas. Having someone else with you allows you two sets of eyes to spot would-be dangers. If someone does get hurt, their companion can administer to them and/or seek assistance. It is also a good idea to let someone outside your group know where you are going and how long you plan to stay. GHOST RECON      Before your group goes into any location to search for paranormal activity, a full investigation of the location’s history and current conditions should be conducted. As much information as possible should be gathered about historical data, prior ownerships, land records and current structural conditions. You may also wish to talk to people who have lived in the area for a while and have knowledge of the place. Arrange for a daytime walk-through before conducting your night time investigation so that you can become familiar with your surroundings and its potential hazards. In doing so, pay close attention to things like vandalism and graffiti that may be present - it may tip you off that somebody else might be lurking about after hours. Also, you might check with the local police department to see if any illegal or occult-type activities have been reported inside. You do not want to be mistaken for anyone with sinister intent or be trapped there with someone who could do you potential harm. The living are to be feared more than the dead in most cases. Overall, make sure you have discovered as much about the property as possible before entering. DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT THEM      Besides the usual technical equipment involved on investigations, you should also be prepared with other tools to help you stay safe. Most obvious is a flashlight. Because most paranormal investigative work seems to be done in the dark, no investigator should ever be without a functioning flashlight. Having a light source will not only help you navigate through dark areas safely but it will also help you feel safer if the psychology of being in a haunted place starts to play with your mind. Any smart investigator will also carry a ‘walkie talkie’ with them so that they can be in constant contact with other team members if you become separated. Some other pieces of equipment that you should include in your arsenal are a first-aid kit to treat any minor injuries, a working cell phone, bug spray to keep the mosquitoes away, and face masks to prevent breathing in dangerous particles like dust, asbestos, and fiberglass. (When there are signs posted that warn of adverse structural conditions or airborne hazards, you should seriously consider staying clear of the location.) If you, or anyone in your party has an existing health condition for which medication in some form is required, don't forget to bring it along with you. For outdoor investigations, a compass is always a great tool to have in your possession. Note: We know cell phone signals can interfere with a  great number of ghost-hunting "tools". Switching them off during a session is strongly urged, but at least have one in your possession if possible. DRESS FOR SUCCESS      Wearing the proper clothing is also a very important consideration. Make sure you are dressed for the existing conditions you may encounter. Starting with your feet, you should be sure to wear some strong and sturdy closed shoes that will protect your feet from sharp objects, nails, glass, splinters, etc. A good pair of shoes will also make a big difference in balance and stability when walking through uneven terrain. Long pants, long sleeves, and clothes that cover your body are also important to protect yourself against colder elements. The prime consideration in all this is, obviously, weather conditions. You never know how the weather may turn while out on an investigation. Most often you will find yourself investigating at night when it is always colder and you’ll likely be in places that are damp, dusty, and dirty. Long clothes will also lessen your possibilities of being bitten by bugs and other critters that like to hide in these places. You’ll also be less exposed to things like poison ivy when investigating outdoors. THIS AIN’T NO PARTY…THIS AIN’T NO FOOLIN’ AROUND      Absolutely no drugs or alcohol should be used by an investigator before or during an investigation. There are already enough dangers to concern yourself with while investigating. Being impaired by drinking or doing drugs will only heighten these dangers. You place yourself and those around you at higher risk by being inebriated or impaired during an investigation. This is a serious concern. And regardless of what some recreational users might tell you, you will not have any better chance of contacting the dead by being high. You may however, have a better chance of joining them or spending some time as guests of the local police should you be caught under the influence. If you are spending a long, late night chasing spirits of a different type, that drive home shouldn't be done while impaired.  R-E-S-P-E-C-T      Investigations should be taken seriously. Have respect for the property you are investigating and for those around you. Vandalism and pranks are only going to give all of paranormal investigation a bad name and make it harder for serious investigators to be granted access. We're looked upon as a fringe element to begin with. Pulling pranks on other team members is a good way of getting someone hurt, too. Paranormal investigating has elements of fun and excitement, but should be approached as a systematic study that should be respected and conducted properly. There are long stretches where no visible or audible activity is found - it is during those times where your dedication and focus are tested. Taking out frustrations on private or public property is the sign of very weak character. “NO” MEANS “NO”      As stated earlier, many investigators will tell you they fear the living more than the dead. So be sure you have proper permission before entering a location. We all know access is hard to come by sometimes and it gets frustrating to be turned down so often. That still is no reason to act irresponsibly and subject yourself to physical danger or arrest. Nothing hampers or trivializes the paranormal field more than investigators spending the night in jail. Any location that is considered private property (including cemeteries and abandoned buildings) should be treated as such and never accessed without valid permission. Know what the town ordinances are and what time public areas close. You will be subject to whatever penalties come with trespassing in that town. Always explain exactly what you hope to accomplish in a location and how you will go about it. Don't stray from that plan or from the area in which you have been granted permission to investigate. In doing so you may be putting yourself at risk from any unknowing residents, security, or police officers who become aware of your presence and consider you an intruder.  Even if you do have permission to enter a certain property, you should notify the local police so they will not become suspicious of the flashlights and sounds there during the middle of the night. Provide the license plate numbers of all vehicles that will be parked in the location and if at all possible get written permission from the owner you can produce upon request. Always carry valid ID with you and make a point to thank whoever is responsible for allowing you access, including the police. It might pay off down the line. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS      If you have a strong sense that something is wrong or that you shouldn’t be doing something, don’t do it! Trust your instincts in every situation when investigating the paranormal. Be sure that your group sets up a central command area or a safe zone where you can all meet regularly to clear your heads, take a head count and regroup. If at any point during an investigation you become a bit overwhelmed or frightened, you should - as calmly as possible - head to your safe zone and regroup with others. Fear clouds the mind and forces you into bad decisions. If you feel the presence of danger, be it physical or spiritual, don’t proceed. There is no reward for being brave when investigating under less-than-ideal conditions. You will on occasion encounter places and situations that will test your resolve and you must approach them with extreme caution and take some time to gather your thoughts rather than head straight into potential danger. When these situations happen, no one should be mocked for a lack of courage or subjected to peer pressures, but instead receive support and respect for their concerns.   KEEP IT REAL      In conclusion, paranormal investigation can be an exciting and rewarding experience. But you’ll quickly find that it’s nothing like the reality shows represent. Much of your time will be spent doing mind-numbing (but vital) research and setting up or breaking down equipment. During most investigations it's very rare that you will experience anything that is truly paranormal. Most of the time you’ll spend many hours on a Saturday night staring at equipment hoping to see something with no results. It's a bit deceiving from watching the television shows, but in reality paranormal activity is very uncommon and quite unpredictable. These shows have skillfully edited out most - if not all - of the unexciting activity and are usually filming in places that have been deemed highly active to begin with. So keep all this in mind when deciding whether or not to go into dark places looking for ghosts. Use common sense, put your own safety and that of your group first and remember - true paranormal investigation isn’t a passing fad, it’s a long-term commitment that requires safety precautions and sound planning.