Self-catering holidays can be a great option if you like to do your own thing. Whether you’re renting a room, apartment or villa, they can give you more flexibility and space than you usually get in a hotel.
As with any holiday accommodation there are certain safety precautions you should take. Here are some tips to help you stay safe in your accommodation.
Balconies are great for relaxing on but there are a few safety precautions you should take.
For more on balcony safety see our guide.
Bathroom floors are often tiled so condensation and water spray can make them slippery. Use non-slip floor mats on the floor and remember not to use electrical appliances near water.
If the water from the taps or a shower is very hot or the flow is irregular you may want to point this out to anyone else staying with you, particularly children.
Barbecues can be great fun but to avoid accidents the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents recommends the following:
Most accidents happen in the home. If you have children you’ll be used to casting an eye over any new place you take them to check for potential hazards. Depending on how old they are you could take them on a tour of the house and point out where to take care. Here are some things to look out for.
Take time to read the instructions before you use any electrical appliance in your accommodation.
If you are using any of your own electrical appliances abroad, such as a phone charger or hairdryer, make sure you have the correct adaptor suitable for the local voltage. And don’t leave any item charging unattended.
And just like at home, don’t overload sockets!
If you have children with you it’s a good idea to supervise them when they are using electrical appliances or playing near plug sockets. If you are concerned about them touching the sockets you may want to buy safety plug protectors.
If you are staying in a room or apartment in a building find out where the fire exits are, which escape route is nearest to you and how to raise the alarm if there’s a fire. Make sure everyone in your party knows this too.
If you are staying in a villa or house spend a little time reading any fire safety information there is and making a note of where any fire extinguishers or fire blankets are. If there are smoke detectors check these work and if not let the person who manages the property know.
Think about how you and the rest of your party would get out of the house if there was an emergency.
If there is a fire leave the property immediately and don’t put yourself in danger by spending any time me collecting your personal belongings. Close the doors behind you and once you are out raise the alarm. It’s a good idea to have the number of whoever you booked your accommodation with or who manages your accommodation in your phone as well as the local emergency services stored in your phone.
The emergency services number in the EU is 112 and this puts you through to the fire brigade, ambulance and police services.
If you are catering for yourself you can greatly reduce the risk of eating contaminated food.
It’s always worth checking if the tap water where you are staying is drinkable. If it’s not or you’re not sure then use bottled water for drinking, making ice cubes, washing your teeth in and for cleaning food. Boiled water and hot drinks made with boiled water are also safe.
If you buy prepared foods, such as salads, it’s often a good idea to wash these before eating them and you may want to avoid raw or uncooked shellfish or seafood.
You may also want to avoid unpasteurised milk, cheese, ice cream and other dairy products depending on where you are and where you buy them.
For more on food and water safety see our guide.
If there are any gas appliances where you are staying, such as a gas cooker or water heater, make sure you always turn them off when you’re not using them. If the gas comes from a bottle, turn off the supply at the bottle neck when you’re not using it.
Take a couple of minutes to check these out. If there are black marks or stains around the appliance, the flames are a weak orange instead of blue or there is more condensation than there should be it could be faulty and you should report it at once.
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that is sometimes produced when a gas appliance is faulty. You can't see or smell it but it can be fatal. Signs that you or someone in your party might be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, collapse and loss of consciousness. Don’t confuse these with other holiday sicknesses.
If you smell gas or think there may be a problem open all of the windows and doors and contact the manager of where you are staying immediately. If you are in a villa or house leave the property straightaway. If you are in a room or apartment in a building let the manager know immediately so they can evacuate the building if necessary.
Not all rental properties abroad have carbon monoxide detectors. If you are worried about this you can buy a portable one in the UK or patches which detect carbon monoxide and take these with you. For more on carbon monoxide see our guide.
If there are glass doors where you are staying, such as out to a patio or pool, take care in bright sunshine as it’s not always easy to see if they are open or closed. The same goes for windows which you may think are closed but are in fact open.
If there are lifts where you are staying:
If you are renting a room it’s a good idea to keep the door locked at all times even when you’re in it. The same goes for windows if they are easily accessible from outside or you have small children with you who can easily get to the window from inside.
If you’re worried about security – perhaps you’re staying in a long corridor of rooms – it’s a good idea to indicate your room is occupied even when you’re out. You can do this by using a "do not disturb" sign or leaving the lights on.
If you want to be extra safe try and get a room with a peephole so you can see who is outside before you open the door. And you can also place a wedge under your door if you feel uneasy.
If you are worried about how secure it is where you are staying lock your windows and doors placing a wedge under the door if you have one. Keep your money, valuables and important documents such as your passport in a wall safe or hide them away.
Stairs are one of the most common places where holiday accidents occur. Indoors watch out for tiled stairs that may become slippery or where there’s no handrail.
Outside steps may also be slippery, particularly if they are near a pool or it has rained. They may also be steep and if there are no handrails extra care needs to be taken.
Most pools in self-catering accommodation do not have a lifeguard. Here are some tips for staying safe in and around the pool.
For more on pool safety read our guide.
These companies have signed up to the Safer Tourism Pledge