Summer vacation is in its first full week in B.C. and while you’re delighted to have some extra time to enjoy your kids, the over two-month stretch does not come without its set of concerns.
The simple fact is that your children will be spending more time at home and that increases the likelihood of incidents that can impact your homeowners insurance policy. For all of their impressive physical and cognitive development, they may still lack some practical “house-smarts”. However, that can be changed by drawing attention to habits that can put your home in harm’s way. Today, Park Insurance is providing a summer school session that can be applied (and delivered) to your child, pre-teen, and/or teenager so that your family home stays healthy and happy throughout the summer season.
5 Homeowners Insurance Tips to Kid-Proofing the Home in the Summertime
1. Household Fire Prevention and Education
Children playing with fire is one of the top causes of household fires in Canada. Thus, it goes without saying that you must hammer home this point, especially to younger children who may not fully understand. They need to learn that ALL matches, lighters, and flammable chemicals are off-limits, even when they beg to help light the propane tank before a family BBQ.
Of course, less direct causes remain a concern, and should be addressed. This includes keeping all electrical outlets covered, maintaining a clean cooking area, and making sure that your kids do not plug in their mobile devices (iPads, etc.) overnight. Review this complete guide to household fire prevention with your child.
2. Educate Them on Water Damage Prevention
It’s a good idea to keep your kids versed on the concerns of household water use. Their combined activities in the bathroom and kitchen are among the leading causes of water damage as they can be forgetful (or haphazard) when it comes to turning off the faucet. But it goes beyond that. Arm them with the knowledge that you have when it comes to water damage prevention. Use this infographic as your guide. Even though the details may not be within their realm of responsibility (i.e. inspecting water tanks for leaks) they tend to soak up information better than any of us. In the end, they may be the ones to remind you to run through the checklist throughout the season and before extended trips away from the home.
Outdoor watering systems also become a major threat to the exterior foundation (and ultimately the interior) of your home. Your kids may be having water balloon battles, filling up the kiddie pool, or volunteering to water the lawn or wash the car. In the excitement, they may forget to turn off the garden hose. If left near the home’s foundation, excessive water may accumulate, pool, and seep through the exterior walls. At best, you may experience surface damage to your walls. At worst, you could be looking at a flooded basement and/or electrical fire. Make sure that outside water play is supervised and that the kids know to turn off the hose.
3. Monitor Online Viewing for “Don’t Try This at Home”
An example of this concern came up around the office recently. An associate’s child was combing through YouTube for fun videos on the trendy fidget spinner (ALL parents know what these are by now). They ran up to their parents exclaiming “Mom, dad, check this out. I want to do this!”. The video depicted someone placing a fidget spinner at the center of a bed of matches. The YouTuber spun the toy, and proceeded to light the matches, resulting in an eye-catching display that would wow most viewers. Most of these viewers however, are children of varying ages. Nowhere on this video was a clear disclaimer explicitly stating “Do not try this at home”. Of course, the parents warned the child to never attempt anything like this, with or without supervision, as would you. However, can you imagine all of the times that your child may be exposed to online viewing of this nature without your guidance?
Be sure to restrict summertime online viewing and make a habit out of monitoring what your child is watching (and downloading) through these weeks of free time. Your household will be safer for it.
4. Make Sure They Don’t Alert Burglars on Social Media Before Vacation
You may monitor the social media activity of your brood for inappropriate behavior, but what you may not consider is how posting just before and during a family vacation can put your vacant home at risk. Tech-savvy local burglars monitor social media activity of those within their target communities. When they note that homeowners will be (or are) away from home on a family trip they jump all over the opportunity to break into your home. Put a full stop on your tween or teen’s social media activity prior to and during a vacation when it comes to anything that gives away your location. Sit down with your socially active kid and walk them through this five-step guide to locking down risky social media activity while on vacation.
5. Teach Them to Treat Vacation Rentals and Home-Stays the Same Way
Your family may be using a vacation rental or home-stay when away on vacation. It’s important for your kids to understand that these residences are not like hotels where reasonable damage may be covered by an all-encompassing policy of the hotel/resort. These are people’s homes and/or investment properties and damage caused by your kids may extend beyond what the host’s policy covers. For instance, while Airbnb has a $1 million Host Guarantee, there have been well known cases where the policy did not cover guest damage. When this happens, the host may choose to take legal action against you. Do all that you can to prevent this by ensuring that your child applies all that they have learned above regarding your own home, to home-stay properties too.