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Vacation rentals: 5 hazards parents should watch for

A pool area with plants and palm trees.

July 7, 2023—Renting a house for an upcoming vacation? Chances are you carefully researched the location and amenities. But if you're traveling with small children, you'll also want to make sure that your home away from home is free of common hazards.

Before packing your bags, ask for details about:

  • Pools. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, drowning is the top cause of accidental death for children ages 1 to 4. If your rental has a pool or spa, confirm that it's secured. It should be surrounded by a fence at least 4 feet high and have self-closing and self-latching gates. Life rings or reaching poles should be easily accessible.
  • Tip-over dangers. Are heavy furniture pieces anchored to avoid tipping over? If not, have a plan for how you'll prevent accidents. Push TVs as far back from the edge of their stands as possible, for instance. To discourage your child from climbing, avoid putting toys on tippable furniture.
  • Household poisons. If cleaners, insecticides or other toxic products are stored in spaces your child could access, ask the owner if the items can temporarily be moved to a safer location.
  • Cribs and play yards. If the rental comes with child-friendly equipment, make sure it meets safety standards. Set the crib mattress to the appropriate level if it's not that way when you arrive. Make sure there are no loose objects, like mobiles or cords from window blinds, near the crib.
  • Fire safety. Confirm that the rental will have adequate smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Find out where the fire extinguisher is stored too.

Arrive prepared

When you get to the rental, check for any additional hazards. Expect that you might need to make some safety adjustments based on your child's age.

Packing pro tip: Bring along a roll of painter's tape. You can use it to cover outlets, tape up dangling window cords, attach folded washcloths to sharp table edges, and secure drawers or dressers at risk for tipping.


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