Social gatherings like barbeques and pool parties are a big part of summer life. While the dilemma of what to serve is often a host’s main concern, a tasty menu isn’t the only thing party planners should be worried about.

“We certainly see more issues related to injuries on decks and in backyards because there's more social gatherings in the summertime as opposed to the winter,” says civil litigation lawyer Nicolle Snow.

Snow says protecting guests at a social gathering should be top of mind, and hosts can start by ensuring their property is safe.

“As a homeowner you want to make sure there are no unreasonable hazards or obstructions on your property that may cause your visitors to be injured,” says Snow.

A pre-party checklist can help keep guests safe. Stairs and decks should be checked to ensure they are sturdy, while a backyard should be cleared of debris.

Once the party has begun, hosts should also keep an eye on their guests.

“You want to ensure that you're not serving alcohol to minors and you're not serving alcohol to any individuals who are obviously intoxicated,” says Snow. “If that individual leaves the party later and is injured, liability could arise.”

Snow suggests some additional precautionary steps to limit summertime accidents:

  • Stay away from water while under the influence
  • Familiarize yourself with your province’s host liability laws
  • Keep a close eye on fire pits and barbecues
  • Limit guests to those you know

“When you open up the doors to allow other people to come, that's when your risk is going up even more,” says event planner Katelyn Hipson.

Hipson says having a plan in place to get guests home safely should be arranged ahead of time.

“Do we have a designated driver? Do we have a shuttle company? Also, a lot of cab companies allow you to pre-book with them, so that's something you may want to take into consideration as well,” says Hipson.

Perhaps the most important thing to take into consideration when planning a summer party is the weather, and it’s important to have a second location ready if need be.

“If it starts to rain, if it starts to thunder shower, if it starts to hurricane like it did last weekend, and if we're planning an outdoor event, where are we going…so our guests stay safe, secure and dry,” says Hipson.

But even sunny weather doesn’t always mean smooth sailing, especially when it comes to cooling off in the water.

“You have to have some sort of enclosure around a pool with a self-latching entry so unauthorized visitors can't get into the pool,” says Snow.

As for children, it may be best to leave them at home with a babysitter, depending on the type of event being held.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Alyse Hand