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24 Commonly Forgotten Investigation Essentials

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A few of Spectral Research and Investigation’s Toys!

As paranormal investigators, researchers, and enthusiasts, many of us love seeing all the new ghost hunting gadgets that are out there. We love seeing what other teams use and how they use it. We love seeing what evidence these items can capture. And, we love showing off our own toys! While obviously, the ‘big stuff,’ such as DVR systems, EMF meters, voice recorders, spirit boxes, etc. are integral pieces of the investigator’s equipment bag and are rarely, if ever, forgotten…they aren’t the ONLY important items to bring along. 

Over the past 20 years, I’ve had the opportunity to investigate a lot of places. Further, I’ve had the opportunity to investigate a lot of different TYPES of places. Whether it be an indoor or an outdoor location, a place located in town or out in the middle of nowhere, a private home or a business, each investigation is different and presents its own unique challenges.

To help meet those challenges and make each and every investigation as safe and comfortable as possible, I’ve compiled a quick list of 24 COMMONLY FORGOTTEN INVESTIGATION ESSENTIALS. Most of these items are items that at one time or another, I really wished I had brought with me. 

1. Paper, pens, colored pencils/crayons:  For me, these items are a must-have! I like to keep meticulous notes during an investigation, recording environmental conditions, anomalies on equipment, personal experiences, and much, much more data that I think will help in our final review. But, these items are quite versatile! You may need to sketch out a map. You may want to have your witness draw a picture of what they saw (this is especially true if you’re interviewing children). You may need to leave a note or mark an area of interest. Or, you may want to get a lil’ metaphysical and try some automatic writing as a communication tool. Bring plenty of paper and writing utensils, including a good black marker. 

2. Gaffer’s or painter’s tape: These types of tapes don’t leave a residue and won’t damage surfaces, which is especially important if you’re investigating in someone’s home or a historic location. We use to tape to safely tape down cords to prevent tripping, but it can be used in many ways, from hanging those signs/notes, labeling purposes (use your black marker to write directly on the tape), marking directions/making arrows and stabilizing equipment in one location. 

3. Hair Ties: You don’t want long hair getting in your way, causing false positives in your photos or simply being a nuisance (especially when its hot, lol). So, bring some hair ties for personal use, but also keep in mind that you don’t need to be McGuyver to see how useful they can be in other situations! Like the tape, hair ties can be used to rig up equipment and perform any job that you’d want to use a normal rubber band for. Hair CLIPS can also be pretty useful in a pinch, and ZIP ties have plenty of similar uses as well.

4. Snacks and Drinks: This one may seem pretty obvious, but you really don’t want to forget your snacks and drinks! We’re on location for close to 12 hours sometimes and we’re not always in an area where you can find an open gas station or fast food joint. Keeping hydrated and keeping your blood sugar normal are vital to ensuring a safe and comfortable investigation.

5. Glow Sticks: If you’re investigating in the dark, glow sticks are awesome for marking areas that you want to make sure are seen. Use glow sticks to show where equipment is set up, where hazards might be (such as loose floor boards) or anything else that you need to find easily in the dark. As an added bonus, they are an emergency source of light if your flashlights malfunction or run out of batteries.

6. Scissors and/or Pocket Knife: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve needed a pair of scissors to open up a new package of batteries, cut a piece of tape that just won’t tear, etc. Plus, these items can be used in self-defense if need be.

7. Pepper Spray: Speaking of self defense, pepper spray might also be a good item to carry with you. We have way more to fear from the living than we do from the dead. And, unfortunately, many ‘haunted’ locations are not in the safest areas. If you’re licensed to carry, it is legal to do so in the area, and you know you can be responsible with a firearm, that is also an option. But, for most purposes, pepper spray is a relatively safe method of personal protection.

8. Change of Clothes/Shoes and a Jacket: Aside from the obvious jokes, a change of clothes is not a bad idea. Some haunted locations can be pretty dusty, muddy, or wet. There can be sharp nails sticking out of woodwork that can rip the armpit right out of a t-shirt (speaking from experience, lol). You might just get really hot, or really cold and need to add or remove a couple of layers to be comfortable. And, sometimes, you might find yourself spending the night in a location and just wanting a fresh outfit to put on for the drive home. 

9. Toilet Paper/Hygiene Items: Even indoor locations sometimes don’t have indoor plumbing, or simply lack adequate TP. Make sure you have what you need to comfortably relieve yourself and clean up afterwards. This includes hand sanitizer, wet wipes, disposal bags, etc. Other hygiene items, such as deodorant and/or a travel toothbrush/toothpaste might also come in handy if you need to freshen up at any point. 

10. First Aid Kit: A well-stocked first aid kit is an invaluable part of your ghost hunting toolbox. Keep plenty of small items, such as Band-Aids, antiseptic creams, and OTC medications on hand. The most-used item in MY first aid kit is always Tylenol and Tums, but cough drops are essential as well, as you don’t want all your audio contaminated by someone hacking up a lung throughout the entire investigation. In addition, make sure you bring any prescription medication you may need to take during the hours of the investigation, plus an extra dose or two if for some reason you don’t get back home as early as you’ve estimated. 

11. Printed Map and Hard Copy of Client Contact Information: I’ve spent many years investigating throughout rural West Virginia, and even in 2022, there are still huge sections of the state where cell service, especially internet access, is limited or non-existent. In the event of technical difficulties, you may not be able to rely on GPS to get you to your location, so make sure you have a printed map or directions to where you need to go. Similarly, make sure you have the client’s contact information written down somewhere in case you need to find a payphone/landline to contact them at some point.

12. Cash/Coins: This tip applied much more back when I started investigating in the early 2000′s, but can still come in handy. Make sure you carry some cash on you during an investigation. Waaay back in the day, it wasn’t uncommon for the only gas station in a 30-mile radius to not take debit/credit, and coins were awesome if you could find a pay phone if needed. Today, you might consider having cash on hand for unexpected tolls, vending machine snacks, easily splitting up food or other costs with your teammates, small donations to the location, and purchasing souvenirs from whatever business or historical location with a gift shop you’re investigating! 

13. Blanket/Pillow: These are handy to just throw in your vehicle in case you find yourself needing to get in a quick nap during your overnight investigation, or otherwise find yourself spending the night away from home.

14. Masks/Gloves/PPE: Even before the days of Covid, many investigators would include various PPE into their kit. Old buildings can be filled with dust, mold, rodent droppings, and even asbestos. A good mask can keep you safer and more comfortable while investigating, while gloves can keep your hands clean and cut down on contamination if you need to touch something questionable or collect a sample/specimen.

15. Plastic Bags: So, as an investigator who works mainly with hauntings, as opposed to cryptids or UFOs, I haven’t found too many times where I wanted to take an actual sample or collect a specimen (although I have been given things such as possible bone fragments before, lol). But, should the need arise, you want to keep it safe. Plastic sandwich bags are great for this type of thing, and can be used in other ways as well, such as organizing small items that may otherwise get lost in your bag. Regular sized trash bags can also come in handy. You want to leave a location in the same or better condition than what you found it, so be sure to pack out all your garbage. 

16. Measuring Tape/Level: These are useful tools to have on any investigation. When you have reports of objects moving, especially balls rolling, you want to make sure the floor is level. Falls on staircases, which are sometimes blamed on being pushed by paranormal forces, can sometimes be ruled out when shown that the steps are uneven. A measuring tape can also help determine this, and can give you a visual representation of how far an object is said to have moved, the distance between pieces of equipment, etc. 

17. Bug Spray: If you’re investigating an outdoor location, or even an indoor location that is exposed to the elements, bug spray will be a life saver! The last time I went out to the TNT area in Pt. Pleasant, I think I lost about a pint of blood to the local mosquitos. Seriously, those things would give Mothman a run for his money.

18. Multi-Tool: Some equipment (for example, the camera mounts we used with HPIR) requires a screwdriver. A good multi-tool will provide that and many other useful functions during your investigation. If it has a good enough knife/scissors, that’s one less thing you can leave off your packing list.

19. Camping Chair: Much of the time spent on an investigation is sitting around, quietly observing. Many locations are low, or completely devoid of seating, so consider bringing a camping or folding chair with you.

20. Towel/Old Blanket: Like the camping chair, you can use an old towel or blanket to sit on, but it can also be used to wipe mud off shoes, keep you warm in an emergency, or cover up an area that needs to be covered up.

21. Cold/Hot Weather Gear: Investigating can get cold! Supplies like extra gloves and hats, as well as Hot Hands will help keep you warm, but be prepared for bad weather, too. Keep an ice scraper in your car in case temperatures plummet during your investigation. Snow chains for your tires, kitty litter, and a portable car battery charger can all be useful when investigating in the winter. On the other hand, investigating can also get very HOT. Personal fans and cooling towels, as well as dressing in layers, can help keep you cool.

22. Trigger Objects: Trigger objects can be just about anything you can think of that might help elicit a reaction from an entity, or get them to interact. If you know a little about the history and the alleged hauntings of the location, try to bring some trigger objects along that are specially tailored to that location. For example, antique toys, coins with specific dates, coal company scrip, cigars, etc.

23. Power Strips/Surge Protectors: We investigators have a lot of equipment, some of which needs to either be plugged in throughout the investigation, or periodically charged. Even if your location has electricity, outlets may be in short supply, or not exactly where you need them to be. Bring your own power strip/surge protector and a few extension cords. 

24.Chargers and Extra Batteries: This last suggestion should be a no-brainer…but make sure you bring everything you need to charge your phone, including the proper cord, brick, or car adaptor. Also consider a few portable charging rods or similar items, which can be purchased just about anywhere for fairly cheap. Similarly, make sure you have backup chargers, cords and extra batteries for ALL of your equipment. Batteries drain much quicker than you realize, and some locations seem to drain the life out of our equipment much more frequently. Be sure to pack up everything you’ll need to keep your equipment running all evening. 

I hope this list has inspired you to check and double check your own paranormal investigation packing list, and possibly add a few new items. But, like I said, each investigation is different and requires different items. Each investigator is also different, and will require slightly different things to keep them comfortable and safe, and to get the most out of the investigation experience. This is just a quick list of things I came up with. Let me know in the comments below (or join me over on Theresa’s Haunted History of the Tri-State Facebook) what items YOU’D never be caught dead without! 

*You can find more paranormal investigation tips and tricks on the Theresa’s Articles Page of Theresa’s Haunted History!*


Source: http://theresashauntedhistoryofthetri-state.blogspot.com/2022/01/24-commonly-forgotten-investigation.html


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