How to ensure property safety and be prepared for emergencies

Preparing your home for guests

Updated 9 months ago

We’re serious about safety and security. We want you to be, too. We’ve put together this guide to help you proactively address safety issues for guests, ensure safety of your property, and prepare for emergencies. If you want to do more, please check our guide: How to strengthen the security of your property

These safety tips are geared towards homes and apartments, which may be governed by laws that are different from regulations governing hotels and hostels. We recommend you be proactive with guests and communicate with them about every safety device you offer. Let them know that you will be immediately accessible to help guide and connect them to local resources in the event of an emergency.  

Your local laws may or may not address specifics on these issues, and we encourage you to do your due diligence and understand your responsibilities as a host. Be confident that you are following all laws and regulations while providing a safe and comfortable place for your guests to enjoy their stay.

There is no better time to prepare for the unexpected than right now. Not only will taking a few minutes to review your property’s safety features provide you with peace of mind, your preparation and diligence could also make a dramatic difference in someone’s life. Every home is different, but there are a few basic safety devices you should install at your property. 

Smoke detectors

Fire prevention laws vary widely from location to location. You should familiarise yourself with your local regulations. We encourage you to install at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home and one inside (or just outside) every bedroom. Test them at least once per month and install fresh batteries regularly.

Carbon monoxide detectors

Carbon monoxide is a gas with no colour, taste or odour that can be deadly if inhaled over time. This gas is produced by fuel-burning devices such as furnaces, stoves, heaters, or appliances that may be burning incompletely or inefficiently. These detection devices can be placed anywhere, but you should at the very least include one in every room with a fuel-burning device. You should test the batteries once per month, and install new batteries regularly. These devices should be replaced every five to seven years. Increasingly, you can purchase devices that combine both smoke and carbon monoxide detection.

Fire extinguishers

You should have at least one fire extinguisher in your home that is prominently displayed or easily accessible. Be aware that fire extinguishers are designed to fight specific types of fires, so pay close attention to the “grade” of the device before purchasing. Most house fires start in the kitchen, so consider placing a fire extinguisher right next to the stove. Want to go further? You can purchase low-cost, fire extinguishing, aerosol spray cans to supplement full-sized fire extinguishers.

Lockers and safes

While not strictly necessary, guests who are far away from home in an unfamiliar neighbourhood will no doubt appreciate having a secure place to lock up their treasured belongings. Digital or LED lockers with no physical keys are recommended. Lockers that are attached to walls or furniture are inherently more secure.

Escape ladders and emergency plans

Obviously, not all homes need an escape ladder, but if your home spans more than one level, you should have a plan in place for emergency evacuations from upper floors. Consider drawing an escape route map or listing detailed steps for guests to take in the event of an emergency. 

How should I communicate the presence of safety devices to my guests? 

  • Indicate the presence of safety devices in the Facilities and Services section of the extranet

  • Show guests where safety devices are located during check-in.

  • Include these details in a safety card for your guests.

  • Encourage guests to report any device noises or flashing lights. False alarms could indicate a low battery or malfunctioning appliance.

Emergency supplies

It is not possible to anticipate every emergency, but you can make sure your guests are prepared for the unexpected by supplying them with a robust first aid kit and a safety card that lists emergency numbers and procedures for them to follow. If your geographic location is prone to a specific type of emergency (e.g., floods, forest fires, earthquakes), your guests will no doubt appreciate a survival kit as well as information about how to respond to those types of emergencies.

First aid kit

You can find many prepackaged first aid kits that contain the essentials your guests will need for minor cuts and bruises. The Red Cross suggests that you include:

  • 2 absorbent compress dressings

  • 25 adhesive bandages of assorted sizes

  • 1 adhesive cloth tape

  • 5 antibiotic ointment packets

  • 5 antiseptic wipe packets

  • 2 packets of aspirin

  • 1 emergency blanket

  • 1 breathing barrier with one-way valve

  • 1 instant cold compress

  • 2 pair of nonlatex gloves

  • 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets 

  • 2 assorted roller bandages

  • 5 sterile gauze pads 

  • Oral thermometer 

  • 2 triangular bandages 

  • Tweezers

  • Emergency first aid guide

Your guests may see you as an especially thoughtful host if you include extras like antacids or laxatives. Consider adding items that can help alleviate the discomfort of an injury or illness that are both child-friendly and available for purchase without a prescription. No one likes to pause their vacation to take care of a cut or sprain, and having a well-stocked first aid kit when injury strikes can be a real stress reliever. 

Safety card

If something goes wrong, your guests should have more than just your phone number to rely on. We recommend creating a safety card that collects all of your safety information on one handy piece of paper, which you can laminate and place in a prominent location. 

What to put on your safety card:

  • Official address of your property

  • Location of smoke detectors 

  • Location of fire extinguishers

  • Location of first aid kit

  • Gas/water/electricity manual shut-off instructions

  • Detailed emergency exit instructions 

  • Contact list with emergency phone numbers:

I. Police, fire, and hospital

II. Your contact number

III. A backup contact in case you cannot be reached

How should I communicate the presence of safety amenities to my guests? 

  • Show guests where emergency supplies are located during check-in.

  • Include the location of the first aid kit in a safety card for your guests.

  • Encourage guests to report any injuries to you directly so you can provide additional help to them if needed.

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