16 Jun

Brits on holiday risking their lives on balconies

ABTA – The Travel Association and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) are renewing calls to Brits heading off on holiday to take care and use their balconies safely. In 2015, tour operators reported to ABTA that three British nationals had died and three more were seriously injured after falling or jumping from balconies while on holiday overseas. This represents just a fraction of the total number of incidents. So far in 2016, there have been three balcony falls reported to the FCO, resulting in serious injury.

Many balcony falls involve young people and alcohol.  For the last five years, ABTA and the FCO have run a campaign warning of the dangers as well as providing advice and tips on staying safe, including posters for hotels popular with younger travellers.

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. With the summer holiday season barely underway, this latest incident and others highlight the need for exercising caution on balconies. Whilst ABTA has seen a reduction in the number of incidents in recent years, one fall is one too many.

Nikki White, ABTA’s Director of Destinations and Sustainability, 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.”

ABTA and the FCO have put together the following tips on using balconies safely, which are available online, and as a leaflet or poster. They have also 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 in the media over the past 12 months include:

  • July 2015 – Mallorca - Scottish holidaymaker suffers fractured arm and hip and broken nose after overbalancing after placing mattress on her balcony.
  • July 2015 – Mallorca - British holidaymaker suffers arm injuries and severe bruising after suspected “balconing” incident.
  • September 2015 – Mallorca - Mother of three dies after falling from Balcony.