From beautiful beaches to world famous hikes, there’s no denying that B.C. is the perfect destination for a summer getaway. And with many families and individuals looking to scratch their long-awaited travel itch, it’s sure to be a busy season for vacation rentals.
If you’re a vacation property owner, you may be excited to welcome travellers back this summer. But, while you may have thought of just about everything to ensure your guests feel COVID-19 safe during their stay, there are other preventable dangers to consider – like carbon monoxide (CO).
Carbon monoxide is an odourless, tasteless, invisible gas. It’s difficult to detect, and exposure can be deadly. In vacation rentals, CO safety is such a priority that some rental organizations, such as Airbnb, provide smoke and CO alarms to eligible hosts at no cost.
While CO alarms are the only sure way to alert your guests on the presence of this potential hazard, there are multiple steps you can take to minimize risks. As a host, make sure you put safety first and follow our list of tips to help prevent CO exposure in your rental:
1) Install a CO alarm
If you don’t already have a CO alarm, assess your property, and install enough alarms to keep your guests safe. Technical Safety BC recommends installing CO alarms in the hallways outside the bedrooms and on each level of the property.
Pro-tip: When shopping for CO alarms, look for products that are certified for use in Canada. Also, consider getting a CO alarm with flashing lights. These alarms can help for those who have a hearing impairment.
2) Test your CO alarm
Already have CO alarms installed? If it’s been a while since you’ve rented out your property, make sure all your alarms are working properly and check the batteries twice a year. CO alarms should also be tested at least once a month or before each guest’s stay. You can test your CO alarms by pressing the test/reset button.
3) Hire a licensed contractor to inspect gas appliances
If travel significantly slowed down in your region during COVID-19, you may have missed your annual gas appliance inspection. Before renting out your property this summer, have all gas appliances serviced by a licensed contractor.
4) Clean your gas appliances venting system
Overtime, venting systems can become blocked by debris. This can cause CO to build up inside your property. Technical Safety BC recommends cleaning your gas appliances’ venting system at least once a year. Common obstructions to your venting system can include leaves, nests and dirt.
5) Replace your CO alarms as needed
Follow the manufacturer’s specifications for recommended replacement of your CO alarms. The typical lifespan of a CO alarm is between five and seven years, but it varies depending on the manufacturer. Check the product packaging for a suggested replacement date.
6) Include your CO alarm in your rental description
Let potential guests know that safety is your top priority by including your CO alarm in your rental description. Some rental organizations allow guests to filter property searches by whether they have a CO alarm — make sure your rental isn’t overlooked and update your safety features in your listing.
7) Educate your guests about CO
Make sure your guests know what to do if they hear a CO alarm. Tell them before their stay that if the alarm goes off, or they suspect that there is carbon monoxide in the area, they should immediately:
- Evacuate the area
- Call 911
- Wait for emergency services to arrive, do not re-enter
- Seek medical attention if needed
For more tips on carbon monoxide safety, visit Technical Safety BC’s carbon monoxide safety page.