Don’t end the party early: Tips to keep guests safe

The decor is perfect. The weather cooperated, the food and libations are ready, and the first guests should be arriving any moment. But has your household staff been appropriately trained on how to keep a large group of people in your home both safe and happy?

It’s one thing for them to handle their day-to-day duties, but when you add a special event and people who aren’t familiar with your home into the equation, everyone has to be alert to potential hazards.

Of course, you probably don’t think of your home as a potentially unsafe place—and in general, it’s not. However, when you’re hosting an event the normal routines of your home and your staff change, and those changes can create problems.

Here’s one example of how a well-meaning request went terribly wrong: A family was hosting a charity auction at their home, and several workers arrived to deliver the items that were up for bid. The housekeeper didn’t want one particularly large item moved through the house in case the workers damaged items inside, so she asked them to go around the house and through the pool area. The tiled patio was wet with dew and one worker fell, broke his wrist and fell into the pool—where he nearly drowned. Later he developed an incurable neurological disorder, related to the incident. The worker sued the family for medical expenses and other damages. Even though the homeowners weren’t even on the premises at the time of the accident, they were held responsible for their housekeeper’s decision and had to pay the injured worker.

It’s vital to make sure your household employees are informed about the types of liability they could expose you to, even when they have the best intentions to help. Arm them with information to help keep everyone at your home—whether they’re family, staff, guests or contractors—safe.

The following checklist can help you prepare for when guests come knocking:

  • Institute an annual background screening policy for your employees to ensure there have been no criminal convictions since staff members were hired.
  • Check for ample lighting and slip-and-fall hazards around your property before any event. Be sure to include storage areas vendors or staff may need to access during set-up and tear-down.
  • Reassign risky duties to outside professionals. Your employees are much less likely to fall or suffer a back injury if they don’t leave the ground or move heavy objects. If someone needs to hang lights, erect tents, move furniture, set up sound equipment or use power tools, have the work done by an insured outside contractor.
  • Train all family and staff on basic fire and first-aid safety.
  • Assign clean-up duties to specific employees and contractors who are knowledgeable about what to clean and how.
  • Train all staff on basic food safety protocol and make sure they have the appropriate resources to keep perishable foods on ice or chilled.
  • Notify all staff which foods are safe to re-serve or take home and which must be thrown away.
  • Hire a trained lifeguard who is certified in infant/child CPR to monitor any swimming areas or water hazards.
  • Create a formal evacuation exit plan and train all staff. A home that houses fewer than 10 people on a normal day will have a different evacuation plan if 150 guests are inside.

Last updated: Friday, April 28, 2017

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