NBC News

If you saw Adam Robitel’s Escape Room over the weekend, you know just how dangerous they can be in the movies.

Sadly, in a bit of life imitating art, five teenage girls were killed in  Poland while playing a version of the game in which people pay to be locked in a room and must work together to find a way out before time’s up.

Firefighters say a fire broke out in the attraction’s building. A heater ignited and the lack of ventilation caused the girls to asphyxiate.

The tragedy has motivated the Polish Minister of the Interior Joachim Brudziński to issue a country-wide inspection of all escape rooms for safety.

Back in America, escape attractions must be inspected before they can open to the public.

“In order to stay in business, you have to stay up with safety standards, and you have to play by the book,” said escape room designer John Denley, president of Escape Room International. “It helps everyone sleep better at night.”

Denley says that the theme of each room can differ depending on the player’s taste, but there is one thing his brand won’t do and that is lock the contestants inside. He says that does nothing but make them more aggressive.

“Any room we’ve ever built, you’re always welcome to leave room at any time, and one reason we found is because people act much differently.”

There are a number of safety precautions, including hints, that are constantly in use while players are hunkered inside.

“So we’re watching, and giving verbal clues,” he said. “If at any time someone needed to or had an emergency phone call, they would be able to leave.”

As for wiring and electronics, Denley says his rooms use low voltage devices to avoid a tragedy like the one in Poland. And staff have a responsibility to make solvers aware of emergency procedures and plans before they begin.

Jim Bullock, a retired deputy chief with the New York Fire Department  agrees, saying, “They should be telling [players] if there’s an emergency, we’ll stop game, the lights will come on and we’ll come on the PA system and we’ll show you the way out. You don’t have to give them a floor plan because it gives away the game, but you have to show them the way out,”

United States escape rooms are regulated by the stringent and watchful eye of a federal department and include a bevy of precautions including lights, sprinkler systems and multiple exits.

The fictional theatrical version which opened on January 4, follows a group of six people who must traverse a puzzling maze of Rube Goldberg type devices in order to survive.

Director Adam Robitel told iHorror last week that his movie, although the characters are in mortal danger, focuses more on the suspense and action.

“We’ve always envisioned Escape Room more in the vein of an unrelenting Hitchcockian Roller Coaster ride with perhaps a dash of Cabin in the Woods and Final Destination,”  Robitel said.

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