It's (literally) safe to say safety plays a HUGE role in providing a five-star experience for your guests. Before opening your doors to guests, it's crucial to review your properties to ensure that you have the proper safety measures in place and give your guests peace of mind that their safety is your top priority.
You can avoid common mistakes in vacation rental safety by reviewing and implementing these safety measures at your properties. These best practices will not only protect your home and keep guests safe, but also contribute to quality guest experiences and five-star reviews.
Protect your guests and homes
Learn how you can prevent accidents, reduce liability, and maximize each guest’s experience.
Must-Follow Vacation Rental Safety Tips for Short-Term Rental Managers and Hosts
We sat down with Breezeway’s Head of Safety, Justin Ford, to review 15 key vacation rental safety tips every operator should pay attention to.
1. Install handrails
According to Proper Insurance, the most common liability claims at vacation rentals are related to slips, trips, and falls. Falling down stairs is also a common safety hazard, so installing a handrail is an inexpensive solution (typically less than $200) that can keep your guests safe.
2. Smoke Alarms NEED to be cleaned regularly
Your smoke alarms need to be cleaned regularly. Residential smoke alarms should be cleaned monthly, while commercial smoke alarms require annual cleaning. And they must be replaced every 10 years (remember, they are only manufactured in the color white, so if it’s off-white it needs to be replaced!). It’s imperative to check smoke alarms on every departure because guests can pull batteries out of alarms if they beep and put them back up. This could be a matter of life or death. Be sure this is added to your inspection checklist.
🔥Tip: Many guests who stay with you may be hard of hearing or sound sleepers to test effectiveness. Justin suggests downloading the 'Decibel : dB sound level meter' (free app) and entering a home with a colleague. One person stays in the kitchen or living room and tests the smoke alarm (by using the test button or a can of smoke spray). The other enters an upstairs room with the door closed and the app open. If they do not see an 85-decibel register, the smoke alarm is not loud enough, and a future guest may not hear the alarm.
3. Every area where somone will be sleeping needs to have an egress
Egress should be 5.7 square feet within 44 inches from the floor. If the egress is more than 20 feet from the ground, you need to provide an Emergency Escape ladder.
🔥Tip: Justin recommends this ladder, which is high quality at an affordable price point.
4. Inform guests about how to use your grill properly
There have been more than 60 fires in 2023 alone caused from BBQ grills at short-term rentals. It’s important to ensure your grills are not placed on balconies or within 10 feet of combustibles. Consider adding a sticker on the grill with operating instructions.
Simply record a video with instructions on how to operate the grill and upload via Vimeo or Youtube; create a QR code and print it onto a sticker.
🔥Tip: If your only outdoor space is a balcony or covered porch and you want to offer a grill, Justin recommends going with an electric option. Bonus points if you can reduce the ability for guests to move it.
5. Clean dryer vents regularly
Dryers in rental units are used frequently. Be sure your dryer vents are being cleaned regularly (at least twice a year). This should be part of your preventative maintenance program checklist.
6. Make sure fire extinguishers are easily accessible
“Fire extinguishers are a tool guests use to put out a fire if it’s made easy for them to do. They will not run towards a fire to grab the extinguisher” - Justin Ford. Extinguishers should be easily located by guests and mounted on the wall within 30 feet of any cooking appliance.
7. Put safety warnings on bunk beds
If you don’t have them, the Breezeway Safety program can provide the information or you can make your own, but you want to ensure those warnings are there. No children under 6 should be on the top bunk, the ladder should be permanently attached, the guardrail should go all the way around the bed, and there must be at least 5 inches of space between the top of the mattress and the guardrail.
8. Clean refrigerator coils
Fridges are one of the #3 appliances to catch on fire. Fridge coils should be cleaned annually. You’ll want to ensure this is on your preventative maintenance program checklist.
9. Sharpen kitchen knives
Dull knives not only negatively impact the guest experience but are involved in ⅓ of all kitchen-related accidents. Be sure the knives in your kitchens are sharp and your kitchen has a knife sharpener.
10. Attach furniture to the wall
Furniture falling over is the #1 injury in children under the age of 7 in the state of Florida. Make sure tall furniture is attached to the wall. Visit anchorit.gov for guidance on how to safely attach furniture.
Pool Safety at Vacation Rentals
11. Dont allow guest access to pool chemicals
The only people who should be using chemicals in your pools and hot tubs are certified professionals. All chemicals should be properly locked and stored away from guests.
12. Lock hot-tubs
Children are curious and excited [especially when on vacation] so it’s important to ensure hot tubs are properly covered and secured with straps or padlocks so that they remain closed.
13. Display pool rules & safety precautions
Properties that offer pools should provide the proper pool rules signage as well as pool safety hooks. Any pool floats left behind by guests that are not US Coast Guard-approved floatation devices should immediately be removed, and no floats should be provided as a guest amenity.
14. Install pool alarms
Pool alarms are critically important and should not be disarmed by guests as they help prevent drowning.
🔥Tip: Similar to the video on operating the grill, Justin recommends creating a video on pool safety and sharing it with guests on arrival day. This encourages them to educate their party on how to have a safe stay in your rental.
15. Promote your safe property
Safety Sells! Showcase the work you’re doing for safety on your website, social media, and in owner acquisition strategies. Communicate your commitment to safety to guests and help owners understand the value it has.
Often, a commitment to safety comes after a tragic event. At Breezeway, we’re committed to helping professional operators introduce preventative vacation rental safety measures to ensure all guests who book a short-term rental can sleep peacefully, knowing they are safe.
A Beginner's Guide to Property & Guest Safety