This all sounds like lots of fun, in spite of the work involved to make it all happen, doesn’t it? But there’s one more very important step to having a successful corn maze. And that’s safety-for both you and your visitors. or you, the farmer, safety means:
Having liability insurance is an important means of protecting yourself from accidents and expensive litigation. Successful businesses face litigation, whether meritorious or frivolous. You don’t want your operation to be over before it gets started. The amount of insurance you have and the premiums you pay will (in part) be based on the activities you offer (the assumed risk involved), the safety measures you have in place (many of which will be required before insurance can be in place) and the scope of your business.
Interruption of business insurance is another valuable safety feature for maze owners. Excessive rains, winds, crop destruction and even fire could ruin your season. You need to be protected.
You also need to make sure you have any required permits from your county for operating. Talk about embarrassing…and costly. Be sure to check with your local fire department as they are the ones that usually hold up corn mazes for inadequate protection against fire. If concessions are offered, you need to know what, if any, health department rules need to be followed. NOTE: These usually apply only if the concessions are not commercially pre-packaged treats. Some counties are more lenient than others when it comes to farm-related concessions, but check to be sure. Each county has its own interpretation of ‘assumed risk’ when it comes to farmer’s markets/agricultural concessions.
Another measure that you can take to decrease the potential for costly litigation is to have signs posted stating you are not liable for accidents or injuries and require liability waivers signed by visitors. Seeking legal counsel in writing your waiver is advisable. Also have rules and expectations clearly posted and hand out to each visitor along with a map of the maze. Oh, and that’s after you’ve gone over them briefly when they arrive. NOTE: If keeping track of all those waivers sounds like a nightmare, you might want to consider the following option. Have a guest book that includes the waiver opposite every page guests sign in on. Clearly post the fact that signing in is required and that by doing so, releases you from liability.
Some of the rules/expectations you need to consider posting include:
- Liability waivers or guest sign-in that is equivalent to signing a waiver is mandatory before entering the maze
- No running
- No tobacco, smoking or alcohol on the premises
- Shoes required
- No glass containers
- Children under the age of 12 must carry a whistle or flag (supplied) n case of panic or getting lost
- No tromping down corn or leaving the paths
- No admittance after dark. NOTE: The exception to this rule might be special dark-nights when flashlights are used for winding through the maze and close supervision is in place.
As for the safety of your visitors, you need to have some or all of the following measures in place:
- Corn cops. These are employees who are stationed throughout the maze (wearing t-shirts indentifying then as such) who assist visitors if needed, insure that visitors follow rules and regulations and treat the maze and other visitors with respect and pre-empt any potential problems. It’s also advisable to station corn cops on a scaffolding or tower that overlooks the maze to keep watch for misconduct, those that get lost or confused and emergency situations.
- Supply employees with walkie-talkies for communication purposes.
- Have a plan for medical emergencies-including notification of accessibility to the maze by emergency vehicles if necessary. Provide first-aid training to employees. Equip them with basic first-aid kits and keep a more extensive kit at the maze office or entry fee booth.
- Have a plan for fire emergencies. Start in the planning stages by incorporating safety measures such as a firebreak between the maze and adjoining properties. Then make sure all employees know where the nearest water source is in case of fire and have fire extinguishers on hand.
- Supply those under twelve (and anyone else who wishes to have one) with a whistle or flag to alert corn cops if they become disoriented or panic.
- Go over the rules of the maze with each visitor and supply a map so that if they desire to use one, they’ll have it.
- Mark both the maze and the map to allow visitors to know where they’re at, how far they’ve come, etc.
- Walk the maze at the end of the evening to ensure that no patrons are left on the premises.