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.
Derby Creek Guesthouse