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Equipment We Use

This is list of the equipment that T.O.P.S uses while performing an investigation. This list is not a complete listing of all of the equipment that we use, but some of the basics.

1. First Aid Kit
This is very important when doing an investigation, whether it be outdoors or indoors. You don't want to be out somewhere and be unable to help a team member out should they be injured while on an investigation.  Bandages, ointment, etc. are crucial to treating most bumps and bruises.  However, should an injury be more serious, do not hesitate to call 911.  The health and well being of our teammates is always a top priority.

2. Notebook, pens and pencils
In this field of work you will be doing tons of writing and documenting.  You will seriously be writing everything that happens.  You will not only be jotting down witness claims, but also the readings of your instruments and any feelings or experiences you and your team have along the way.  Because you will always want an accurate representation of who experienced what, and when, it cannot be stressed enough how important it is to literally write everything down.

3. A Watch
A watch is important because it goes hand in hand with documentation.  As stated in the last section, you will want to report what time things are happening, what time you may have witnessed anything, and how long the phenomena, for instance, lasted.

4. Flashlight
Simply put, being that a lot of investigators do their investigations in the dark, a flashlight, or several, is an absolute must.  One other thing along this line to be recommended is using a flashlight with a red lens.  The standard clear lens is fine, but using red will not interfere with night vision, while also providing ample ability to see in the dark.  Many investigators swear by red lenses, claiming that once they started using them, they cannot imagine every going back to the clear variety.

5. Spare Batteries
There is a theory in this field that entities need to draw the energy from a power source, so they will draw it from the batteries.  I can't begin to tell you how many times this has happened before.  One minute my flashlight or camera is at full power, the next it's drained.  And besides that, you never known when your batteries will run out of juice sometimes.  So, it's just better to be prepared.

6. Bottled beverage and light snack
Because you will often be out investigating for anywhere up to 6 to 8 hours at a time, it is always wise to have a beverage and a snack handy for an energy boost.  Personally I would say a couple bottles of water and something lite, like a granola bar, is optimal.  And though it shouldn't need to be said, always be sure to be respectful to your surroundings and throw your trash away in the proper

Honestly, those are the only items you need when ghost hunting.  I'll tell you why. Ghost hunting isn't about the device.  There is no gadget that can detect the presence of a spirit.  What makes a good paranormal investigator, is the investigator.  However, you should spend a great deal of time researching anything you can in this field.  Knowledge is the most valuable tool you can possess.  If you don't want to buy any books, just go to your local library and check out all you want for free.

Now after you get comfortable in this field and you want to experiment with other tools, feel free to go ahead.  Here are some other tools you may want to consider starting out with:

7. Digital camera or 35 mm camera
Either digital or more standard film is good in my opinion.  You will get some people who swear by film but any digital camera over 4 mega pixels will do the job just fine.  Be sure to take plenty of photos on your investigation.  And let instinct and your reactions be your guide.  One important thing to note, however, is that if you are having your film developed, be sure to have the developer give you copies of each and every one of your stills.  Oftentimes, they will throw out certain photographs thinking them poor.  However, these alleged imperfections may be exactly what you are looking for!

8. Digital voice recorder or analog tape recorder
Again, there are some who swear by analog over digital and some who swear by digital over analog, but it is really all personal preference.  Of course, there are benefits to each.  For instance, the digital recorder will allow you to upload the audio file to your home computer and make sharing easier.  But analog cassette recorders are nice for your record keeping and are still used by even the most seasoned of investigators.  Simply put, either/or is fine and will work for an EVP session.  I suggest having two recorders present at all times so you can cross reference each device during your review process.

9. EMF meter (electromagnetic field meter)
As the name suggests, this device detects electromagnetic fields. There is a theory that spirits can cause fluctuation in EMF's, so an unexplainable high spike could possibly be linked to paranormal phenomena.  Please note this is not a ghost detector.  Just because your meter may register a spike does not mean the place is haunted.  It is important to try and find the source of the EMF before claiming it paranormal.  Are you near any wiring in the walls, floors, ceiling, etc?  If you get a reading of interest, do your best to rule everything out first and foremost.

I recommend using the EMF meter for one purpose, and one purpose only - and that is checking to see if the location you are in has any unusually high levels of electromagnetic field which could explain the phenomena reported if the resident is hypersensitive to electromagnetism.  This type of hypersensitivity can cause anything from skin irritations, nausea, the feeling of being watched, and even paranoia.  Certain low levels of EMF, coupled with correlating conditions, has also been known to cause hallucinations under controlled laboratory settings.  If this is the case, and you find unusually high EMF's, please bring it to the attention of the residents, and suggest for them to consult an electrician about the problem.

10. IR Thermometer
This tool is important to register temperature.  An initial reading in the residence should be done and documented first.  Cold spots are often felt in a location with claims of ghosts.  Hot spots are felt as well, just not as often. It is important to try and find the cause of these temperature changes before claiming them paranormal.  Anything from ventilation ducts to drafty windows can be a possible source.  Also, please do consider that older homes are often drafty and can be the cause of these types of feelings as well.

11. Video camera
This is another great piece of equipment to use. It is great for documenting everything including things you may have missed with your eyes. I recommend having a few video cameras around, both handhelds and a few stationary.  Use them as your eyes and ears when you are out of specific area, and as a unbiased record of the events of the investigation.  Again, make sure you have fully charged backup batteries.

12. DVR system
Another great system to have to have recordings of rooms you cannot be in.  For the types of investigations most groups get a chance to do, I recommend a 4 to 8 camera system.  The cameras are generally IR and wireless.  This way they will see in the dark and, from anywhere within the allotted distance, they will report the visuals back to the main system where they can be viewed in real-time or, reviewed later for your convenience.

13. Geiger counter
A Geiger counter measures alpha, beta, gamma and X-ray radiation. Like other devices this will be used to search for fluctuations in radiation which some believe to be a disturbance in spirit energy.  Let it be noted that the first three types of radiation are all emitted from the nucleus of unstable atoms, with alpha rays being the least dangerous to be exposed to.  In fact, alpha rays have a short life span in the air, and can be stopped by a simple piece of paper.  Beta, though, will pass through paper, but can be stopped by aluminum.  And Gamma is strong enough to pass through both substances but will be stopped by lead.  This is, of course, the reason you wear a covering when having certain types of X-rays done.  For protection!  If you are recording any high levels of radiation, do the smart thing and simply get out.

14. Portable Motion Detectors
This device is used for anomalous motion.  If you and your team are in another part of the location and your motion detector goes off in another room where you know no one was, it can be an interesting piece of evidence.  However, I would recommend having a video camera pointing towards any area you are setting this motion detector up just so you can be sure of what exactly set it off.  Friendly cats, and even bugs can and will set off a motion detector, depending on the sensitivity of the device.

15. Air Ion Counter
This device counts the ions that are in the air.  Theoretically speaking, if ghostly phenomena has some density to it then it should register on this device.  The best way to use an air ion counter is by taking a base reading (like you would with temperature and EMF), and then again if activity starts happening.  If the reading increases, this may go a long way in proving that ghosts have some type of density.

16. Humidity Gauge
This device is great for checking ambient conditions indoors and outdoors.  Often called a hygrometer, It is a nice tool to have in order to rule out any natural occurrences that may show up in photos.  This device also goes hand in hand with the "Water Tape Theory," which suggests that the alleged electromagnetism given off by spiritual energy can be imprinted upon the humidity in the air.  Having a good humidity gauge will allow you to record this information for both research and documentary purposes.

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