As soon as the days show signs of getting longer, we Canadians are eager to abandon our coats and embrace our summer social lifestyles. Many of us become inspired this time of year to enjoy casual meet-ups with neighbours, throw backyard pool parties, and host BBQs.
Getting the most out of the short summer months feels almost daunting; to the point where it can be easy to overlook common safety practices. The good news is, it’s possible to showcase your hosting skills while keeping the well-being of yourself and your loved ones a priority.
Here are some tips to help you shine as a summer host.
First Things First
Before inviting guests over, is your home party-ready?
- Keep the areas of your property that will be open to guests well-lit and free of clutter. Ensure walkable areas are level and safe
- Move valuable items (such as jewelry and electronics) to secure areas to prevent damage or theft
- Stock your First Aid kit and keep it accessible
- If you have pets that aren’t great with crowds, designate a sitter or prepare a safe, comfy room for them to hang out in
Pool Party Prep
If your home has a pool, you’re no doubt popular with friends and family looking to escape the hot, muggy weather. As you open your gates to guests, keep this advice in mind:
- Make sure the pool’s surroundings are well-maintained and clean, and that pool fixtures and furniture are sturdy
- Entryways should be functional and able to be closed/locked when not in use
- Keep an eye on children and non-swimmers
- Ensure your guests know the pool depth(s) before entering, and communicate whether diving is allowed
- Have sunscreen and drinking water available
Contact your insurance broker to confirm that your pool is covered by your home insurance policy. You may also want to discuss whether to extend your liability insurance to your pool to protect you if anything were to happen on your property.
Whether prepared in the house or outside, your guests will savour the snacks you serve up. Migrating back and forth from the kitchen to the outdoor BBQ, however, typically means food being cooked is occasionally unattended. Cooking is the top cause of house fires in Canada, and even a brief slip-up can cause disastrous results. Remember:
- Have somebody monitor the BBQ at all times and keep small children away
- Never add fire starter after the BBQ is on and lit
- Ensure the BBQ is positioned on level ground and away from trees or bushes
- Keep food prep areas clean and free of grease, with sharp objects out of reach of children
- Do not set bags/gifts/papers on or near the stove top – even temporarily
- Turn off all heat sources before plating food and leaving the kitchen
- Have a fire extinguisher nearby
Cocktails… with Caution
Your guests who enjoy a cool beer or glass of wine will appreciate the opportunity to kick back and imbibe. As their host, the onus is on you to:
- Serve plenty of food and make non-alcoholic beverages available
- Be aware of the alcohol consumption of those in attendance. Don’t overlook the underage guests. In fact, staying sober yourself will put you in the best position to monitor and care for your guests if needed
- Arrange a designated driver to take people home, or have cash on hand for any intoxicated guests who need to call a taxi
- Offer coffee and tea at least an hour before festivities wrap up
There’s no question that everyone’s safety is the most important reason to follow these tips. But also keep in mind that, as a host, you may be responsible for the actions of your guests. Be sure to familiarize yourself with social host liability guidelines.
Contact your broker to discuss what your current policy covers, and determine whether you’re protected if your event results in physical harm to (or by) a guest or damage to property. This is also a great time to make sure your policy reflects any new changes or improvements you’ve made to your home since you first set up your insurance.
Cheers to summer!