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 put this guide together to help you proactively address safety issues for guests, ensure the safety of your property, and prepare for emergencies. If you want to do more, check our guide: How to strengthen the security of your property

These safety tips are geared toward homes and apartments that may be governed by laws that are different from regulations for hotels and hostels. We recommend being proactive with guests and communicating every safety device you offer. Let them know you’ll 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, so we encourage you to fulfill your due diligence and understand your responsibilities as a host. Be confident that you’re compliant with all laws and regulations while providing a safe and comfortable place for guests to enjoy their stays.

There’s no better time than now to prepare for the unexpected. Not only will taking a few minutes to review your property’s safety features give you 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 that every property should have. 

Smoke detectors

Fire prevention laws vary widely from location to location. You should familiarize 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 a month and install fresh batteries regularly.

Carbon monoxide detectors

Carbon monoxide is a gas with no color, flavor, or odor, and 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 running inefficiently. These detection devices can be placed anywhere, but you should include one in every room with a fuel-burning device at the very least. You should test the batteries once a month and install new batteries regularly. These devices should be replaced every five to seven years. You can find devices that combine both smoke and carbon monoxide detection.

Fire extinguishers

You should have at least one fire extinguisher in your home that’s prominently displayed or easily accessible. 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 putting an 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 neighborhood will appreciate having a secure place to lock up their valuables. 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

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 tell guests about available safety devices? 

  • Indicate the presence of safety devices in the Extranet’s Facilities and Services section. 

  • 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’s impossible 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 appreciate a survival kit as well as info about how to respond to those 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 including:

  • 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 pairs of non-latex 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 also 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 injuries occur 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 your safety info on a single piece of paper, which you can laminate and place in a prominent spot. 

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 can’t be reached

How should I tell guests about available safety supplies? 

  • 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 them with additional help if necessary.

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