The holidays are a great time to host family, friends, and neighbors. But whether you’re planning a small get-together or a big holiday bash, having guests over can open you up to liability if someone gets injured at your home or on your property.
Thankfully, renters and homeowners insurance help shield party hosts from paying many injury-related expenses out of pocket. But because claims can increase premiums—and because not all expenses are covered—it’s important to do everything you can to make your home safe and prevent accidents and injuries.
Here are a few ways to have a fun AND safe party this holiday season.
Check and Clear the Path Guests Will Take in and Out of Your Home
The way that your guests enter and exit your home may be different than the way you enter and exit. One common example is that you may park in your garage and enter your home through it, while they may park in your driveway or on the street and enter through your front door.
That means there may be hazards you aren’t aware of in their path. Check for hazards in your driveway and on your sidewalk and porch, including broken or uneven concrete and steps, loose railings, wet leaves or ice, and tripping hazards such as hoses or children’s toys on the lawn, and be sure to address those issues before guests arrive.
Keep Pets Away from Guests
Dogs are man’s best friend—but not everyone is a dog lover! Some people are afraid of animals and may feel uncomfortable in the presence of a dog, even one as sweet and friendly as yours. Keeping dogs away from your guests also eliminates the risk of an unexpected bite.
Few dog owners would ever anticipate their pets attacking someone, especially if they’ve never shown aggression before, but many dog bites happen with no history of such incidents. And it can be more likely to happen when dogs are overwhelmed or frightened by large groups of unfamiliar people in their homes.
Dogs can also cause injuries even when they don’t bite. For example, a dog who enthusiastically greets guests by jumping on them could knock them over and cause injuries that way.
Child-Proof Your Home if Kids Are Coming
As soon as they’re able to crawl, kids have a knack for getting into anything and everything—especially things they’re not supposed to be around. Supervise kids while they’re at your home, and either lock up or remove potentially dangerous items, including household cleaners and other chemicals.
Install a gate on your staircase to prevent falls, and never let children go outside or near your or your neighbors’ swimming pool unattended—even if it’s covered for the winter.
Prevent Foodborne Illnesses
Whether you’re making food at home, ordering delivery, or having a potluck, it’s important to make sure the food you serve is as safe as it is delicious.
That means thoroughly cooking all food to the recommended temperature, refrigerating leftovers right away, keeping food covered while it’s being served, and encouraging everyone to wash their hands before they eat or share serving utensils. And remember, when in doubt about the freshness or safety of any food, throw it out!
Be Mindful of COVID-19 Risks
Unfortunately, COVID-19 cases are still high nationwide, including in Oklahoma. It’s important to do your part in preventing the spread this holiday season.
That means reducing the number of guests you have in your home, encouraging guests to wear masks and/or get vaccinated, and ensuring that people who have COVID-19 or who have symptoms stay home. If the weather permits, hosting people outdoors in your yard can also help prevent the spread of the disease.
Ensure Guests Get Home Safely if You Serve Alcohol
If you decide to serve alcohol at your holiday party, it’s important to encourage guests to get home safely. That means ensuring that they either appoint designated drivers, schedule a rideshare/taxi to pick them up, or allowing them to stay at your home overnight. You should also have plenty of non-alcoholic beverages available.
Never allow anyone who is intoxicated to drive home. When intoxicated guests drive, they not only put themselves and others on the road at risk, if they cause a crash, the people they injure can sue you for overserving the intoxicated driver! This is known as social host liability.
Set a Strict End Time for the Party
Parties raging deep into the night may be fun in your teens and early 20s, but guests who overstay their welcome can quickly turn a fun night into a chore—especially if they become heavily intoxicated. Whether you plan the party via social media or traditional invitations, be sure to include an end time along with the start time.
A “public service announcement” reminder that the party is soon ending as the night winds down can help would-be lingerers get the message to slow down their drinking and ensure your party ends on a peaceful and safe note.
Injured At Someone Else’s Party? We Want to Help.
Just because you go out of your way to ensure your party is safe for guests doesn’t mean others will.
If you or someone you love gets injured at a holiday party or any other get-together, our Oklahoma premises liability lawyers want to help. It’s our goal to help people injured because of property owners’ negligence get the compensation they’re owed. Contact Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation.