CBIZ INNKEEPERS INSURANCE BLOG

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Ward, Hayden
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12 Essential Safety Tips Every Inn Owner Must Know This Holiday Season

12 days of safety for innkeepers and bed and breakfast owners

Don't let safety concerns dampen your holiday spirit and turn into risk-mas. From security systems to smoke alarms, here are 12 days of safety measures for your bed and breakfast or inn to follow.

Day 1: Smoke Alarms

On the first day of safety, we remind you that smoke alarms should be installed in each hallway, stairwell and bedroom. Larger properties may need extra alarms. Batteries should be replaced every six months and tested at least once a month. Each post-stay inspection should include a test of each battery-operated smoke alarm in the bedroom. A best practice is to replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old.

Day 2: Winter Weather Supplies

Walking on thin ice is dangerous, especially when it’s slippery! Slip and fall claims are extremely common during the winter and can happen to anyone. To keep you, your team and your guests safe, ensure driveways, stairs and sidewalks around your property are clear of ice and snow. If your property is prone to severe winter weather, you may want to consider stocking your inn with these winter amenities:

  • Shovel
  • Ice melt or road salt
  • Broom

Day 3: Fire Escape Plans

The weather outside might be frightful, and the fire is so delightful but portable fire extinguishers should be provided and correctly maintained for potential incidents. They should be located near all cooking areas, fireplaces, wood-burning stoves and/or outdoor fire pits. The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) recommends that extinguishers should be tested every five years, depending on the type.

  • Make an escape plan.
  • Draw a map of your inn showing all the doors and windows.
  • Post the escape plan in the property.
  • All windows and doors should open easily. Leave instructions for your guests if there's a "trick" to open any.

Day 4: Fireplace & Chimney

To ensure the safety and functionality of your fireplace and chimney, it's important to have them inspected and maintained annually by a licensed contractor. To prevent accidents, keep anything that can easily catch fire, as well as children and pets, at least three feet away from the fireplace. Consider installing a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room. If you need to dispose of ashes, make sure they are completely cooled before placing them in a metal container, which should be kept at a safe distance from your inn.

Day 5: Security System

For burglars, it’s the most wonderful time of the year, especially if your guests may have traveled with five golden rings. Make sure your guests keep those precious gifts away from the windows. Don't tempt those Grinches! Most thefts occur when valuables are left out in plain view or when guests are present in your inn. Whether your property is full of people or unoccupied for weeks, a security system is a wise investment. Though they are expensive, not having one could cost you more. It'll give you peace of mind knowing that you've got an extra layer of protection for your little slice of paradise.

Day 6: Heating System

To keep the holiday spirit glowing for the right reasons, and avoid turning into Crisp Kringle, make sure to give combustible items a little space by keeping them at least three feet away from any heating units. Don't forget to give your vents a little TLC by keeping them clear of any dust or debris. And when it's time to snuggle up with a cup of cocoa, be sure to turn off those portable heaters when leaving the room or heading to bed. Remember, always use the manufacturer-recommended fuel for your space heaters. Never use your oven to heat your property. Keep the cookies baking and the inn cozy with proper heating equipment, installed by a qualified professional following local codes and manufacturer's instructions.

Day 7: Water Safety

Cue the seven swans a-swimming! If your property is unoccupied for a few days or months, shut off the main water valve, open up your faucets and drain your water lines. Be sure to disconnect your outdoor hose before winter vacancies. Cleaning and clearing your gutters and roof before you leave is crucial. Keep in mind that major snow buildup or excessive water runoff can result in massive property or water damage.

Day 8: CO Alarms

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? Or are those sounds your Carbon Monoxide detectors (CO alarms)? They should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the inn, as well as other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards. CO alarms need to be tested at least once a month and batteries should be replaced every six months. Experts suggest calling your local fire department’s non-emergency phone line to find out what number to call if the CO alarm sounds. Your post-stay inspection should include a test of each battery-operated carbon monoxide detector.

Day 9: Indoor Holiday Decorations

On the ninth day of safety, we remind you that lights spark joy and are a festive way to capture the spirit of the holidays at your inn. However, if you’re decorating with lights indoors, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Do not overload your sockets.
  • Do not re-wire your lights.
  • Do not use indoor lights externally.
  • Do not leave lights plugged in for long periods.
  • Always use lights that have been certified.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
  • Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
  • Turn off all light strings and decorations before leaving or going to bed.

Day 10: Replace Furnace Filters

It’s suggested that you regularly change the filters in your central air and heating systems, or yule be sorry. Not maintaining your furnace filters correctly can lead to dirty filters which often restrict airflow, increase energy demand, and can even cause serious system or property damage.

Day 11: Kitchen Safety

If you’re baking spirits bright, test your smoke alarms and make sure guests know about your fire escape plan. Stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop. Portable fire extinguishers should be located near all cooking areas, fireplaces, wood-burning stoves or outdoor fire pits.

Day 12: Excellent Insurance Coverage

On the twelfth day of safety, we remind you to start the season right with innkeeper’s insurance. Potential lawsuits from guests can put your personal assets at risk. Damage to your inn and its contents can cost you a pretty penny in out-of-pocket expenses if you’re not covered by the right insurance. As you create a festive wonderland in your cozy inn, don’t forget the importance of obtaining adequate insurance protection for your business. To discuss your unique risks and learn more about coverage options, connect with a member of our team.

This blog may contain scenarios that are provided as examples only. Coverage is subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions of the policy issued. The information provided is general in nature and may be affected by changes in law or the interpretation of such laws. The reader is advised to contact a professional prior to taking any action based upon this information.

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