How to stay safe late in the cottage season

While the summer counts down towards fall, it is completely understandable to want to soak up as much times as humanly possible in your “home away from home.” As many seasoned cottagers know – once the temperature drops and the leaves change – it can be a whole new world in the north.  

Here are six best practice tips on what to get in the habit of when you’re at the cottage in the fall. 

1. Make your inspections inside 

As summer fades and autumn rolls in, we start to spend less time outside and more time inside. Make sure you’ve covered everything on the inside home front.

  • Test your smoke and CO detectors (least monthly; don’t forget to replace the batteries)
  • Inspect your barbecues and heating devices, especially woodstoves and fireplaces. 
  • You have enough flashlights and candles. 

2. Scan the perimeter 

When you first arrive to the cottage, take a sweep of the outside area to look for any down branches, anything impacting the power lines, and any unwanted critters making your home their home. That means any nests, holes, and other damage as they look for a new hiding spot. 

It’s also the time of year where the walking paths and rocks can be extra slippery – so take extra caution and make sure all walking routes around the property are safe, clean and dry. Heavy rainfalls and flooding can seriously put a damper on your time in the north, so watch out for any areas susceptible to floods and make sure everything is properly draining away from the property. 

3. Have a boating safety plan 

This is the time of season when the weather can be erratic and unpredictable – even more so when you’re out on the water. Sometimes weather patterns over the lake happen faster than a radar can respond to, so be sure to take that into consideration when planning a boating day. Have all of your safety gear with you, a charged up phone, extra supplies and let your neighbors know where you’re going and for how long.

4. Have an emergency kit

While cottages can seem extra cozy in the fall, it’s a period of time that requires a bit more proactive planning just in case the worst happens. 

Assemble an emergency kit with all of the essential items like food and water for a minimum of 72 hours. 

Pro tip to pack: 

  • A manual can opener, 
  • Extra keys, 
  • A battery-powered flashlight and radio, 
  • First aid kit and medications
  • A portable charger.

5. Be prepared for a blackout  

Knowing what to do if a blackout strikes can protect you and keep your food safe. Power can be restored more easily when there is not a heavy load on the electrical system, so be mindful of that in the colder months. It is also wise to look into the investment of having a backup generator to kick in when the power goes out.  

Pro tip: Turn off all tools, appliances and electronic equipment to prevent damage from a power surge when power is restored.

6. Make your connections known in the area

When fall rolls around, the local cottagers start to fade off, and it's good practice to know who is in the area in case you need any help – especially if you’re on the island. Make yourself more findable by making your cottage’s address number, laneway, and road clearly marked and known to the community and your neighbors. 

It also helps to post emergency contact info by the phone, and to devise a fire-escape plan and emergency plan - and to practise it.

As temperatures drop and the water gets colder, you want to stay warm, safe and secure in your slice of heaven. If you are renting a cottage this fall season and you have been injured because of a slip and fall caused by the property’s condition - you may be able to receive compensation from the property owner.