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Death at an Airbnb


Interesting to see other peoples’ take on this. I hadn’t seen it before yesterday. Apparently, it’s one of a string of deaths/injuries that prompted the Airbnb Host Assurance/liability insurance and the safety campaign.

I agree that Airbnb shouldn’t be held responsible for every injury or death at an Airbnb. But I do agree with the writer that Airbnb has a measure of responsibility to educate its hosts about safety issues and to set certain standards to operate on its platform (as they’ve started doing with the safety requirements like fire extinguishers). If you enter an industry with a product/service, especially one that facilitates non-professionals entering that industry, you bear a certain responsibility to learn the risks and safety standards of the industry and educate your customers about them. Airbnb didn’t do that until injuries & deaths started happening. Yet, the hospitality industry has had certain safety standards, all along, that make perfect sense to introduce to Airbnb hosts (as Airbnb eventually did), such as fire extinguishers, fire exit instructions, first aid kits, and smoke & carbon monoxide alarms. If we’re going to earn money hosting travelers, the least we can do is invest in these basics. But, no, not everyone thought of it or considered it an imperative without some leadership from Airbnb.

But we hosts also bear a responsibility – knowing that a newcomer to our home isn’t familiar enough with our space to be alert to risks that we might know about. For example, I’m willing to bet the residents at that home had more than once conversation along these lines: “I wouldn’t use that swing - who knows how long that branch will hold,” while others said, “Oh, you worry too much, it’s fine.” We do have a moral obligation to be alert to the hazards that a guest might not understand, alert them to it, and take precautions.

I’m hypervigilant about guest safety already. I’ve done multiple “stupid-check” walk-throughs of my home. That’s tongue-in-cheek for: What would the most stupid, distracted, tired, stressed, hurried, hands-full person do here that could harm them? But reading this story made me mentally walk through my home and recognize a few more things I should flag or adjust for guest safety.

Below are some of the things I did early on, which I’ll just include by way of suggestion or a lens through which to view your own Airbnb (not humble-bragging or proposing my steps as a standard, just more things to consider). It seems like a lot, but I guarantee you, this list dwarfs the things you’d have to do, the expense, and the heartache you’d go through (not to mention the damage to others) if you didn’t think of these things until after an accident. For every hour or dollar I spent on these steps, I figure I’ve saved myself and others a hundred times that, as well as the immeasurable pain that can’t be calculated.

  • No electrical devices in the bathrooms at all (not even a hair dryer; these are in the guest rooms)
  • A sign at the carport to check behind the car for pedestrians before backing out.
  • A sign on the gate saying the walkway can be slipper after a rain.
  • Fire extinguishers on each floor.
  • Multiple smoke & carbon monoxide detectors on each floor.
  • First aid kit under each bathroom sink, which I show the guests at check-in, and a card that shows the location/phone number of the nearest urgent care center/doc-in-the-box.
  • Rug pads that keep area rugs from slipping.
  • Lock on the basement door.
  • Safety handles on the gas stove to prevent a child from turning them on.
  • A removable/portable safety splash guard that prevents a child from reaching pots on the stove and also prevent cooking spatter/spills from reaching a child that might be standing knee high next to the person cooking. Can be placed when families are using the kitchen, and put away when they’re not.
  • No toxic products in the home at all (but if you have them, put them out of child’s reach). I use Seventh Generation’s baby formula cleaning products, which a kid could drink without danger, since it’s mostly water, vinegar, plant components, and salts.
  • Outlet covers, which I keep in a drawer and place in the outlets when toddlers are coming to stay.
  • Earthquake safety straps (I’m in California) securing heavy furniture to the wall.

The things I don’t have or haven’t done, which this article convinced me I need to do:

  • Earthquake “Go” bags. They’re expensive, so I’ve procrastinated this, but it’s no small concern in Berkeley.
  • Timer extensions for the space heaters and irons (had a scenario last month, where a guest called me at work to say he had left for the City and realized he left the iron on and SITTING ON THE RUG)! Thus, the term “stupid-check.” lol. I think the timer extensions cost $10-$15 each.

I’d love to see what other folks are doing for safety and any ideas or issues you’ve faced that we might not think about on our own.

Amy B.
Derby Creek Guesthouse
Berkeley CA


The issue I faced when I started was the dog boarding at the same time as humans. I dealt with that by having baby gates in the house/leaving dogs outside/only having airguests when I could be home. Then I retired, then I added onto my home and put a lock on a door between their space and mine.

As for the rest of the space…it’s a new addition that is permitted and up to code. It’s about 200 sq ft total attached to a single story home. There are no stairs or basement. The electric in the bathroom is GFI. There’s no handrails but there’s also no tub. There is a private entrance for exit in case of fire. If somehow the fire was blocking the front door there’s the front window and if I’m home, the door into my home through which we could exit. Everything is plugged in to an outlet there are no extension cords running to and fro under furniture or rugs. I have the window AC on it’s own circuit. There is a small refrigerator and microwave but no cooktop/hotplate/toaster/oven. There is a direct wired CO/smoke detector installed.
There is a small desk lamp that operates on battery if there is a power outage. I live in an area that has few natural disasters so a go bag isn’t necessary. I don’t allow children and if someone writes to ask about it anyway I’m strongly discouraging.

I do have a space heater in the winter, an iron, a blow dryer and an extension cord available for guest use. I’m not going to inconvenience 99.9999% of guests on the off chance that there will be an accident. I’m not going to cut down the healthy tree that is 3 ft from the house on the off chance that it could topple onto the home. I should have cut it down to add another foot or two onto my front addition but that’s a different story.

I can’t think of anything else that it would be reasonable for me to do.


Wow, impressive list and investment since you have said you were not the owner of the home. You have done way more than most owners would think to!


I have a house that I let out to individual lodgers, HMO (house of multiple occupancy, not let to a family) long term renters, and the local council insist I pay for a council safety check. I proudly pointed out all the fire extinguishers, and he said, “oh, we don’t really like fire extinguishers - if there’s a fire, we just want to get everyone out”.
I was horrified, but I soon worked out what he meant. If there’s a small fire, lodger number one sees it, and grabs a fire extinguisher, expecting to put out the fire, no need to alert anyone. He’s not familiar with it, because I don’t do a fire training course, so he struggles for a bit , before hurriedly trying to read the instructions. Maybe it transpires that he has a water filled extinguisher, which would be no good for the fat fryer fire, or electrical fires. By then, the fire has spread, he can’t get out, and he hasn’t warned anyone else, as he thought it would take 10seconds to be a hero.
So I removed them, put a sign up saying get out if fire!


That’s an interesting point.

Though i think that we had to promise airbnb that we had fire extinguishers for each space we share?


That is NOT accurate. Seventh Generations multipurpose cleaner contains the following: Water, caprylyl/myristyl glucoside (plant-derived cleaning agent), lauramine oxide (plant-based cleaning agent), sodium gluconate (plant-derived water softener), sodium carbonate (mineral-based alkalinity builder), benzisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone (synthetic preservatives).

I find your list excessive for a regular rental, but you may be interested in knowing there is a rental platform for “baby-proof” homes. I will find the name for you and update.


Thanks for the correction, CatskillsGrrl. I confused the 7th gen with a vinegar-based product I also use. But they’re still organic, and plant/mineral based. Myristil Glucoside is a fatty acid molecule made from a vegetable sugar, for example. I use the free & clear baby-safe version, which has a few less ingredients than your list. I also make my own cleaners from vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, water, and various oils (depending on the purpose). Peppermint oil is a great oil to add to a homemade cleaning product to freshen bathrooms, for instance.

I don’t really mind if some hosts find my safety measures excessive. They’re what I’m comfortable with, as a host, and my guests very much appreciate them, too. If just one host finds value in my post, that’s enough for me.

I have no need for the baby proof home link. My place isn’t baby proof (no gate for the stairs, for instance). But maybe another host will appreciate it.


You really don’t need the nasty peroxide. I make all my own cleaners just with Doterra essential oils, a dash of vinegar and water.


What is your take on peroxide (re: “nasty”)? I’ve read that very small amounts (such as a teaspoon or tablespoon) in a bottle of homemade cleaning agent makes it strongly antimicrobial. In my shared Airbnb, people come from all over the world, bringing colds & other viruses that I and other guests won’t necessarily have immunities to. So I use Hydrogen Peroxide as a safe and natural antimicrobial. If there’s some toxicity or other issues that I don’t know about, I’d really like to know. Thanks… Amy


There are heaps of things worse so probably a poor choice of words. For me it’s just not necessary. I make my own cleaning spray without it and it works a treat. It’s corrosive and can cause burns and skin irritations and there are lots of essentials oils that have better antibacterial properties. I use lemon, lavender, lemongrass, peppermint and On Guard. You can also take the lemon and On Guard orally if you are worried about colds and infections etc. I make my own deodorant with a similar mix up and might add Bergamot, cypress etc for a nice effect on the body spray. Minus the vinegar I also make a nice air spray and put it on all the linens and pillows and spray it around the house to keep it fresh and clean. Saves tons of $ and better for the environment but that’s just what works for me.


@Emily. Thank you for sharing your homemade cleaning solution. My place is also “green,” and I actually make similar products as you do with essential oils. Hopefully, other folks will also pick up some ideas. I think you may not live in the U.S. (?). In the U.S., the hydrogen peroxide sold in drugstores is so dilute it wouldn’t burn anyone’s skin, even poured straight from the bottle. It’s made to be used as a first aid solution. At industrial strength, it’s definitely corrosive and could burn skin. I also use thyme oil as an antimicrobial when I have it. Anyway, I sure do wish everyone would give up on the nasty chemical cleaning products and fragrances, and use these natural, organic substances, instead. Our health and our planet would be far better off for it. Thank you for the discussion! :slight_smile:


It is an extremely sad story about the rope swing and the authors fathers life being cut short. I kept hoping to see a pic of the tree. The HO policy did pay out to the deceased family I read. It is often very difficult to see how weak and diseased a tree can be and still look viable. Due to personal experience with a rope swing when I was growing up, one left an 11 year old in a body cast and another 12 year old three years later with a broken arm, no the tree did not ever fail, nor the rope…
I am trying to make my listing as risk free as possible but realize there is just no way, even when building, to stop every single possibility of a problem or unimaginable bad accident.
It’s great to see all these home cleaners recipes!


Here are the results from that wonderful mom-biologist at stopthestomachflu.com on her testing of various essential oils. She is my cleaning guru!


So it appears that essential oil doesn’t do anything to kill germs unless it’s concentrated so putting it in cleaners is just for the scent. I had a mild case of the shingles last year and I put tea tree oil on the rash. It did seem to help but I didn’t do a control area. Maybe it was just placebo effect.