A must-read for all booking a home-away-from-home.

Perri Ormont Blumberg
March 30, 2018
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When booking vacation rentals our mind wanders to many things. Steps to the beach, number of bedrooms, and how many cooks can fit in the kitchen, to name a few.

Yet, here's one super important thing we should consider that often doesn't even cross our minds: safety. You may be diligent about changing the batteries in the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in your own home, but when was the last time you thought about these features when booking a vacation home? Exactly.

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"Although most platforms encourage smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and some even give them away to homeowners, consumers need to make sure a host property is following these safety precautions. Few rental sites ensure the property has installed them before the rental," writes Marco della Cava in a recent article for USA TODAY. What's more, even if you do spot these vital detectors in your rental, the batteries could be out of date or the appliance non-functioning. As a safety precaution, once you arrive, be sure to spend a few minutes checking for the alarms around the house and ensuring they work. (Before you book online, it's also worth messaging your host to ensure they have both of these alarms and they have working batteries installed.)

Sites like Airbnb and HomeAway both require that their hosts comply with local safety rules and regulations, but enforcing this can be difficult. Currently, Airbnb is giving away 36,000 smoke and carbon monoxide detectors for free to eligible hosts as part of their commitment to safety and all site listings state whether there's a smoke detector in the home or not. Additionally, Airbnb's recent launch of Airbnb Plus includes only homes that are guaranteed to have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors (as well as various other comforts).

It's also worth reminding yourself of these reassuring words of Douglas Quinby, analyst with travel industry research firm Phocuswright, "[m]ost private homes that are put into a rental pool still have to meet building codes and are generally safe," he tells USA TODAY. Either way, we know what our first move will be at our next vacation rental before we jump into that swim suit.