Safety and fun go hand in hand at the cottage

A group of people roasting marshmallows on a burning fire.

Whether you’re renting a cottage for a holiday or heading up to your own slice of paradise every chance you get this summer, how much do you think about safety?

It’s easy to get lost in leisure time and forget to make sure measures are in place to protect you and your guests. Why not combine safety with fun by involving everyone?

Here’s a handy checklist of often-overlooked considerations that’ll keep you safe:

  • Check for smoke and CO detectors—they may be there, but are the batteries fresh?
  • Ensure there’s at least one fire extinguisher on the property
  • Take a good look at the boat every few days to ensure fuel lines and tanks are in good repair and that safety items  like life jackets, first aid kits, a bailer and more are on board
  • Have an emergency preparedness plan, including a meeting place, and make sure everyone is familiar with it
  • Stock up on first aid supplies and put it in a prominent place where it can be easily accessed (if you’re renting, consider bringing your own)
  • Clean BBQs before using them and don’t leave them unattended while lit
  • Store fuel and firewood at least 10 metres from the cottage
  • Keep firefighting tools near your campfire (bucket of water or sand, shovels, garden hose) – and be sure to properly put out your campfire before you go to bed

And here are some fun ways to make sure safety is top-of-mind for everyone, including the kids:

  • Divide the list above among family members and/or guests and have a race to see who can double check their items the fastest
  • Put the youngest in charge of remembering the sand/bucket around the fire and counting the lifejackets in the boat—no one is more of a tyrant than a 5-year-old with a mission
  • Have the kids make creative and colourful signs to put up around the cottage to make sure all your guests follow the safety rules, e.g. “In an emergency, we meet at the dock”, “Please stay by my side when cooking” (to post by the BBQ)
  • Play charades to communicate to your guests where they might find common safety items like the first-aid kid and to show them where to keep BBQ lighters and other supplies.
  • When you integrate safety into the way you spend time at the cottage, it becomes part of the experience. No more forgetting!

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