How safe is your balcony?
3 Min Read
Every year the headlines are littered with reports of deaths or serious injury as a result of balconing. This is the practice of moving from one balcony to another or jumping from a balcony into a swimming pool. Participants are generally young men who are often under the influence of alcohol or other substances.
Raising awareness and research on balconing
The practice was prevalent a number of years ago particularly in Mallorca to the point that research was carried out at the Son Espases hospital on the island. Over a period from 2010 to 2015 the hospital treated 46 patients for balconing, excluding fatalities, and just over 60% were British. Alcohol was involved in the majority of cases and other drugs in over a third of cases.
Balconing: An alcohol-induced craze that injures tourists. Characterization of the phenomenon – Injury (injuryjournal.com)
As a result of this research fines were introduced in some places in an attempt to deter the activity along with other measures to discourage anti-social tourist behaviour.
ABTA and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office ran a campaign for a number of years warning of the dangers of the practice and each year renewed calls for people to take care when using balconies.
Taking action to help prevent balcony incidents abroad – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
The British Embassy in Madrid and British Consulate in Palma also launched a campaign “stick with your mates” as part of a global campaign on travel safety. This campaign encourages holidaymakers to look out for each other, in particular if they have consumed alcohol or drugs.
The issue seemed to have eased off somewhat but this year, with an increase in travel post-Covid the matter has unfortunately hit the headlines again.
Top Tips for staying safe
It therefore seems timely to repeat the old tips for using balconies. Advice remains the same and includes the following from the previous ABTA and the FCO campaign:
- 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.
It is also worth mentioning that many insurance policies may now include an exclusion for balconing and may refuse to provide cover if you have been involved in the activity.
Likewise in respect of alcohol consumption, if you have consumed an excessive amount of alcohol your travel insurer may decline cover under your policy. This is extremely important to be aware of as treatment in an Intensive Care Ward can be expensive, particularly if you are in hospital in the US.