Our family is getting ready for our summer vacation, how do I know which hotels are safe for me and my family?

Few hotel guests ever worry about being injured on vacation. However, serious accidents happen at these locations every day. Before leaving town, always remind your family about the constant danger of slip-and-fall accidents around hotel swimming pools, spas, and hot tubs. Also, be on the lookout for physical and sexual assaults – as well as various property crimes.

When staying at any resort or hotel, you must also watch out for poorly maintained gym equipment and hot water thermostats. Far too many people suffer serious burns due to the latter. Finally, when staying at a hotel, you must closely supervise your children, including older teens -- since they may all fail to recognize various dangers.

Our firm has created a list of common hotel dangers (see below) in hopes that it will help you avoid many of the most common injuries people often incur while staying in hotels or resorts.

Common Dangers Guests Must Watch Out for in Hotels/Resorts

  • Inadequate pool safety/lack of lifeguard on duty. Always ask if there will be a lifeguard on duty -- and if anyone on the premises knows CPR. Never allow your kids to swim in a hotel pool (or play in a hot tub or spa) without personally monitoring their activities. Also, be sure to ask how often the swimming pool, hot tub or spa is cleaned --and inquire about the water temperature and types of cleaning solutions used;
  • Slip-and-fall accidents. Hotels may often fail to quickly mop up spills and repair poorly-lit stairways and other problem areas. Likewise, guests can fall suddenly due to many different types of unusual conditions. Always be sure to use a sturdy bathmat when showering. Falls in common areas, especially near pools and hot tubs/spas, are very common. Roughly half of all hotel-related injuries are tied to slip-and-fall accidents;
  • Bed bug infestation. One of the worst things about bed bugs is that they’re hard to see and you may not know you’ve been bitten until small blisters appear on your skin. Always look closely at all hotel bedspreads, curtains, mattresses, and pillows to see if you there are any bugs present. Of course, some of the worst problems occur later when these tiny bugs get into your suitcases and head home with you. It can take weeks and cost either hundreds or thousands of dollars to bet rid of all the bed bugs in your home;
  • Serious water burns that can cause scarring. Some hotel chains do a poor job of regulating water temperatures. This can lead to serious burns when hot water thermostats are set too high. Many guests suffer serious burns after just stepping into a shower. Always reach in from the side first -- to try and create a safe blend of hot and cold water before stepping into any hotel tub or shower. (Make sure all family members also take this precaution.) Be prepared for similar problems with the sink water, too;
  • Exercise great caution when standing on balconies. Never assume that these can hold numerous adults or provide strong guard rails. Also, make sure you keep the balcony doors locked. Hotel burglaries remain fairly common;
  • Poorly maintained fitness/gym equipment. Take a good look at any equipment before doing any weight-lifting or other tasks that can lead to serious injuries. Find out how often the equipment is serviced before using it, especially if it appears unstable. Never let your kids go to hotel gyms alone – always go and supervise them;
  • Poorly constructed furniture. You don’t have to be seriously overweight to sit down on overused furniture and have it “give out” beneath you. Also, never jump onto any hotel bed and don’t assume desk chairs and other furniture are completely stable either;
  • Food poisoning. Although the most expensive hotels guard against the improper heating, cooling, and storage of foods, be prepared by carrying OTC (over-the-counter) nausea medications that may also come in handy elsewhere on your trip. Always be especially careful when ordering seafood and steaks;
  • Assaults. Ask at the front desk how many security guards are always on the premises. Even though most hotels offer plenty of closed-circuit monitoring, consider staying in a room close to the office rather than in a distant building. Also, remember that most criminals know that travelers often leave valuables in their rooms or carry large sums of money on them. Be sure to ask the front desk if you can store your valuables in their safe and obtain a detailed receipt noting what you’ve asked them to hold for you. Of course, it’s always best to leave your most expensive watches and jewelry at home;                   
  • Parking lot dangers. Many hotel assaults take place in these areas. Be extra careful when walking in hotel parking lots and consider paying a valet to go and get your car for you. If you are attacked, be sure to contact the police right away, as well as the hotel front desk. Always keep in mind that studies indicate that about half of all hotel injuries are security related.
Tom Hall
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Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Personal Injury Trial Law