British holidaymakers are risking their lives by not understanding the dangers of falling from hotel balconies when abroad.
The warning came today from Abta and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as they renewed calls to people travelling on holiday this summer to take care and use their balconies safely.
Three Britons died and three more were seriously injured after falling or jumping from balconies while on holiday overseas last year, operators reported to Abta.
However, this represents just a fraction of the total number of incidents, according to the travel association. So far in 2016, there have been three balcony falls resulting in serious injury reported to the FCO.
Earlier this month, there were media reports of a 34-year-old British holidaymaker who jumped from his balcony into the hotel swimming pool and remains in a critical condition after suffering a serious spinal cord injury.
This latest incident and others with the summer holiday season barely underway highlight the need for exercising caution on balconies.
Many balcony falls involve young people and alcohol and while Abta has seen a reduction in the number of incidents in recent years, one fall is one too many, the association said.
Abta and the FCO have run a campaign over the past five years warning of the dangers as well as providing advice and tips on staying safe, including posters for hotels popular with younger travellers.
Abta director of destinations and sustainability, Nikki White, said: “As we head into the peak summer season, we are again urging holidaymakers to think about the potential risks of balconies.
“We see too many people badly injured or much worse because they’ve tried to climb over, jump or dive from their hotel balcony.
“A moment of thoughtlessness can have a devastating impact, not just on the holidaymaker themselves, but also on their family and friends.
“By working with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Abta members and local authorities in resort, we hope to help holidaymakers use their balconies sensibly and safely, as do millions of hotel guests around the world.”
Will Middleton, FCO consular director for southern Europe, said: “We have already seen a number of very serious injuries caused by balcony falls this summer.
“We really do urge people to avoid taking risks around balconies, particularly if you have been drinking.
“A momentary lapse of judgement can lead to a lifetime of consequences. So think balcony safety, look out for friends and avoid doing anything that might cost a life.”
Tips on using balconies safely, which are available online and as a leaflet or poster, have been sent to Abta members to distribute to their suppliers overseas:
- Never lean over, sit or climb on the balcony wall or railings;
- Don’t try to pass items to someone on another balcony;
- Don’t climb from one balcony to another;
- Never stand on balcony furniture;
- Never jump into the pool from your balcony;
- Take extra care on balconies after drinking alcohol as your judgement may be affected.
Some of the tragic examples of balcony falls reported over the past 12 months include:
- July 2015 – Majorca – Scottish holidaymaker suffers fractured arm and hip and broken nose after overbalancing after placing mattress on her balcony.
- July 2015 – Majorca – British holidaymaker suffers arm injuries and severe bruising after suspected “balconing” – jumping one from balcony to another – incident.
- September 2015 – Majorca – Mother of three dies after falling from balcony.