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Family Vacation Rental Homes Pose Hidden Safety Risks, CPSC Warn

As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and American families head back out for vacations this summer, federal officials are warning about hidden safety risks in family rental vacation homes.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a press release on July 13, urging families to look for critical safety hazards in rental homes, especially after the recent discovery of problems with residential elevators in many vacation properties.

Families renting vacation homes are being asked to make sure any home their family stays in is equipped with smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms and fire extinguishers. In addition, they should be aware of both pool safety and elevator safety concerns, which may not be apparent if their family does not have such devices in their primary residence.

According to the CDC, at the start of any family vacation home rental, fire safety measures should include checking smoke alarms on every level of the home, as well as outside and inside each bedroom or sleeping area. There should also be a carbon monoxide alarm on every level of the home, outside of sleeping areas, and there should be a fire extinguisher in every home.

Families should also make they have a fire escape plan that provides two ways out of each room, especially when staying in an unfamiliar location.

The CPSC is also warning about potential hidden child safety hazards in many vacation homes. Large furniture pieces that may be prone to tip over should be check, and steps should be taken to prevent children climbing on the furniture. Families should also confirm that all cleaning supplies are kept locked in cabinets, and that window cords are out of reach of children. Also, even on a temporary basis during vacations, families are being reminded that babies should only use proper cribs, which are free from pillows and blankets.

In recent years, the CPSC has also increased a focus on pool safety, as child drowning has become a leading cause of unintentional death among children between one and four years old.

Pool safety recommendations issued by the CPSC include never leaving children unattended in or near water, and making sure an adult is keeping watch who is not reading, texting, or using a smartphone. Any door leading from the house to the pool should also have an alarm, and pools and spas should be surrounded by a fence at least four feet high with self-closing and self-latching gates. Families should also confirm that all pools have adequate drain covers and life-saving equipment, like life rings and reaching poles.

Prior to any vacation, federal regulators suggest that parents should be sure children learn to swim, are kept away from pool drains, which have been linked to a number of severe and fatal injuries in recent years. Families should also know how to perform CPR on both children and adults.

As part of this new statement, the CPSC also reiterated recent warnings that were issued about risks associated with residential home elevators that are found in many rental homes. Families should make sure they are familiar with the safe operation of these small elevators, and that steps are taken to make sure small children do not become trapped in a dangerous gap that may exist between the elevator door and home door.

On June 24, CPSC officials issued a residential elevator warning about these dangerous gaps, which have been linked to a number of severe injuries and at least one death after a small child became trapped in this area when the elevator started to move.

The CPSC reports there have been at least three incidents involving catastrophic problems with certain ThyssenKrupp residential elevator designs, including a 2-year-old child who died in 2017, a 3-year-old child left permanently disabled in 2010, and in 2019, a 4-year-old boy was hospitalized after a crush injury.

Earlier this month, the CPSC filed a ThyssenKrupp residential elevator lawsuit, which seeks to require the manufacturer to inspect elevators installed in customers’ homes and offer free repairs to prevent hazardous gaps.

The CPSC advises vacationers to be aware of any gaps greater than four inches deep that might exist between the interior and exterior doors. It also recommends elevators be locked so they cannot be accessed by children.

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