Now that I occasionally rent out my cottage, I often get messages from guests who can’t find a switch or get the Apple TV to work. That’s nothing new. But when a woman texted me at 4 a.m. to tell me that the power was out and she couldn’t find the flashlight, I realized that my safety instructions were a little light on detail. Would people know what to do if there was a fire? Did they know where to shut off the water and find the first aid kit?

Even when I’m there, my house is often full of friends, and I don’t always take the time to make sure everything is secure and tell them how to survive my dinner party!

Here are a few tips on how to be a considerate host:

Get ready for the little monsters to barge in
Although we might not always think to warn adults about hazards in the home, we usually do for young children.

IMG_0853-460.jpgBefore the kids arrive, take a look around and see what areas or objects could be dangerous for little ones. Hiding your Peruvian statuettes and crystal glasses isn’t going to cut it; think like a kid who might be drawn to neat things like the dog food bowl or the colourful cleaning supplies under the sink. Also, if you have a pet, make sure that guests of all ages know how to behave around the animal to avoid accidents or injuries.

Take the time to show parents what things to watch out for, such as an unsecured shelf or a drawer that contains harmful objects or liquids.

And if you are having a child over without their parents, make sure you have their emergency contacts in your phone and on a good old piece of paper.

Ah, the joys of allergies!
I remember one epic dinner where I had several friends over : one was vegetarian, one was allergic to gluten and another was lactose intolerant! Dietary preferences aside, remember that some allergies can be life-threatening, so it’s critical that you be aware of them before you get cooking!

Tell your guests if you know first aid or CPR and download the Red Cross First Aid app on your phone so you are better prepared for any medical emergencies.

Fenced_backyard_pool-460-(1).jpgEverybody in the water! Make a splash with pool safety
Being the proud owner of a pool or hot tub comes with its share of responsibilities.
Make sure to keep the gate closed and remind guests about your pool rules, like actively keeping an eye on the kids. Have life preservers and a first aid kit handy and show people where your emergency equipment is located.

When you aren’t using the pool, remember to remove the ladders, install the safety cover and put away any toys.

Find out more about backyard pool rules.

Disaster_kit_open_2028-400.jpgEveryone outside! Grab the evacuation plan
The emergency exit is this way! Make sure that your guests know at least two ways to leave the house if there is a fire and where to find your disaster preparedness kit. Bonus points if you put your home evacuation plan up on the fridge!

This is also a great opportunity to think about testing your smoke detectors and replacing the batteries if necessary.

Download the Be Ready app to learn about what to do in a disaster or an emergency.

Party in the basement! Find an emergency shelter
Your guests should know where to take cover if a violent storm or tornado hits. Don’t have a fallout shelter in your backyard? The basement or a windowless room on the ground floor can serve as a temporary shelter.