Tips for Staying Safe Abroad

Most vacations are incident free and holiday makers return home with nothing more concerning than a little sunburn and those extra pounds they lost in preparation for their trip.

However, sometimes unfortunate incidences can occur abroad. So here is a list of safety precautions you can take to minimise your risk and increase your chances of returning home happy and healthy.

Take Out Travel Insurance and Keep Copies of Documents

Although it can seem like an extra holiday expense, if you become ill or suffer a personal injury overseas, travel insurance becomes worth its weight in gold.  According to the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, an air ambulance from the east coast of the United States to Britain would set you back £35-45000.00.

Many people believe they are completely covered for medical mishaps in Europe if they have an EHIC card; however, this simply covers basic medical costs and only in state hospitals.  It is worth having the added protection of travel insurance in case an unforeseen, major emergency befalls you.

Make sure you have copies of your passport, insurance and other important documents.  Keep one copy with a trusted person at home and one copy in the safe of your hotel.

Research Your Destination

Take some time to discover a little about the country you will be visiting. Is there a history of civil unrest?  Recently popular destinations such as Egypt, Thailand, Turkey, Greece and Ukraine (the ninth most popular tourist destination in Europe in 2012) have been affected by protests turning violent. In most cases holiday resorts are not affected, but if you are planning to visit the sights in major metropolitan areas, check with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to see if there are any government warnings applicable to your destination.

If you are unlucky enough to find yourself caught up in a protest or riot, move to the edge of the crowd and from there walk away from the gathering.  DO NOT take any photographs or start filming. Protesters do not want to be identified and may take serious measures to remove your camera or phone from you. If you are in your hotel, remain inside, lock the doors, close the curtains and stay away from the windows.

Take Precautions When Buying Food and Drinking Water

Traveller’s tummy, Delhi belly, bacterial gastroenteritis, whatever name you give it, nothing will ruin your holiday faster than a bout of food poisoning.  Depending on its severity the experience can range from having to spend a few miserable days cloistered in your hotel room, to requiring medical treatment at the local hospital.

Food poisoning is caused by contaminated food and water.  The standards of food health and safety can vary greatly from country to country, but here are a few pointers that may help you avoid the misery of contracting food poisoning abroad:

• Check to see if the tap water in the country you are visiting is safe to drink. If it is considered unsafe, drink bottled or sterilised water and avoid ice.
• Do not consume food from street vendors.
• Research eating establishments on the internet or in travel guides and only eat in places which have been recommended.
• Eat your food piping hot.
• Avoid seafood, salads and dairy products in countries where cases of food poisoning are common.

Watch How Much You Drink and ALWAYS Keep A Close Eye on Your Glass

Holidays are meant to be a time when you can let your hair down and many people throw caution to the wind when they are on an adventure abroad.  However, when you are intoxicated your judgement becomes clouded and you are far more likely to become a victim of a robbery or an assault.  It is also worth noting that most travel insurance companies will not provide cover for any incidences which result from a person being intoxicated.

By keeping these few tips in mind you can relax and make the most of your holiday, with the knowledge that you have taken the necessary precautions to protect you and your family.  Enjoy planning your summer break.

You could be entitled to make a personal injury claim – for more information on making a poisoning claim, more detailed information can be found here. To speak to someone now about your claim, call us in complete confidence on 0845 345 4444, or fill in this contact form and we’ll get straight back to you.

Rearward Facing Car Seats – Time for a Re-Think?

In 2009 the British Medical Journal published an article on the significant safety benefits of keeping children in rearward-facing seating when travelling in a motor vehicle. Now, five years after this paper was released, how accessible is information regarding the benefits of keeping your child rearward-facing for as long as possible? Has the United Kingdom changed its official guidelines regarding rearward-facing car seats? And finally, are they readily available in high street stores or do parents still have to import them from abroad?

The key points from the 2009 article are as follows:

• Many babies are switched from a rearward-facing car seat to a forward facing seat at nine kilograms (eight months of age for a boy on the 50th centile for weight)
• Excessive stretching or even severing of the spinal cord can result if a child is involved in a head-on crash while in a forward facing car seat
• Rearward-facing seats are safer than forward facing seats for children under four years old
• Parents and guardians should be advised to keep young children in rearward-facing seats for as long as possible

The above points are taken from the original article which you can view here in full.

What happens in a motor vehicle accident when a young child is facing forward in their car seat?

In a young child, the head constitutes 25% of their body weight. Their bones are still developing so they are soft and consist mainly of cartilage. This allows them to tumble down stairs or fall off playground equipment and, apart from a few tears, often emerge relatively unscathed.

However, in a high-impact, frontal motor vehicle collision, this works against them in a terrible way. The weight of the head, when it is flung forward, can stretch the neck to the point where the spine snaps, causing internal decapitation. Due a child’s ribcage being soft, the internal organs are not protected against the tremendous force being pushed onto them by their car seat harness and the damage caused can be fatal.

Parent’s access to information

The internet can provide a wealth of information regarding the safety benefits of rearward-facing car seats for children up to four years of age. However:

• Many parents are not in a financial position to pay for an internet connection
• Some families do not speak English as their first language and are therefore limited to the amount of information they can access from British websites
• Lack of education and understanding can limit an individual’s ability to research and understand the information that may be available

Unfortunately, lack of accurate, easily obtainable information is one of the key reasons why even well-educated parents are unaware of the importance of keeping their child rearward-facing as long as possible.

Has the United Kingdom changed its official guidelines?

Some countries, including the United States and New Zealand, have changed their regulations and official guidelines to recommend children remain rearward-facing up until two years of age. Sweden’s official recommendations state that parents keep children rearward-facing until they are 4 years old (contrary to popular belief, this is not enshrined in law).

At present in the United Kingdom babies over nine kilograms (around eight to nine months old) can be forward-facing. However, new European Union regulations which were ratified by the UK in July 2013, known as the i-Size Regulations (or UN R129), state that children should remain rearward-facing until they are at least 15 months old. i-Size also requires that an ISOFIX click-and-go system is used to fit the car seat rather than the car’s own seatbelts. This reduces the chance of the car seat being fitted incorrectly. However, these new regulations will run alongside the existing regulations for the next few years.

Therefore, you can still buy and safely use car seats which comply with the current ECE R44/04. This is causing confusion among parents as they are no longer sure which regulations to follow. Again, uncertainty often arises due to lack of readily accessible information.

Have rearward-facing car seats become more available?

As recently as 2011 it was extremely difficult to purchase a rearward-facing car seat, suitable for a child up to four years of age in the United Kingdom. Caroline Green, mother of a three year old daughter says “The only reason I knew about the benefits of rearward-facing car seats was because my brother worked for Volvo and was involved in some of their safety testing”. She goes on to say; “It really frustrated me that I could not walk into a high street shop and purchase a rearward-facing car seat, I had to do a lot of research to find a stockist”.

Some high street retailers are now stocking rearward-facing car seat brands such as Maxi-cosi and Britax, however, the number is still fairly limited and the price is prohibitive to many individuals.

Sadly, at this point in time, many parents, especially those belonging to socio-economically deprived groups, are unable to give their child what could a be life-saving advantage in a motor vehicle accident. This is due to lack of knowledge, advice, and the current difficulty and expense of obtaining a rearward-facing car seat for children up to four years of age.

UK’s most dangerous sporting activities

Brits are a nation of sports lovers.  Whether it is watching a game of football on the TV or participating in one of the hundreds of different games played across the nation every Saturday and Sunday, we are addicted to the excitement of a great match.

Although most games are incident free, personal injuries can occur and sometimes these can be serious.  So which sports are the most likely to cause trauma?  Here is a list of the top five sporting activities most likely to see you visiting the Accident and Emergency department of your local hospital.


Figures released by the Department of Education in 2010 showed that 37% of British schools now offer Cheerleading as part of their physical education curriculum.  Although some may perceive this sport as fluffy, competitive cheerleading is one of the fastest growing sports in the world.

It is also highly skilled and very dangerous.  According to research from the United States, 66% of catastrophic sporting injuries (meaning injuries resulting in permanent disabilities or medical issues) amongst females are caused by cheerleading, making it by far the most dangerous sport for women.


In 2010 the Edinburgh University’s Centre for International Public Health Policy, released findings of a study concerning 193 rugby matches at five schools between January and April 2009.  The matches resulted in 37 injuries, of which 20 were seen at A&E and one resulted in an overnight stay in hospital for a spinal injury.  One of the study’s authors, Professor Allyson Pollock, called for the banning of high tackles and scrums in rugby played at junior level because of the high risk of injury.

At premiership level, in the 2008/09 season, 769 match injuries were reported, which is an average of two injuries per club per match.

The most common type of injury sustained in rugby is concussion.  In 2012, research from the United States found that former National Football League (NFL) players had higher incidences of early onset dementia. The link between later cognitive problems and multiple-concussions was inconclusive. However, genetics and sub-concussive injuries may play a part in the onset of cerebral problems.  In November 2013 the British Rugby Football Union set up a working group to examine the link between multiple concussions and dementia to further investigate the issue.

Motorbike Racing

The Isle of Man TT race has claimed 240 lives in its 106 history.  It is without a doubt the most dangerous race on the planet.

Motorbike racing is a very injury prone sport, because let’s face it, if you hit the ground at 200mph the chances of you receiving a serious injury is high and there is very little you can do to prevent it.  However, many participants say the extreme danger is just part of the thrill.


This may surprise you but cycling is one the most dangerous sports you can participate in.  Each year thousands of cyclists are injured on British roads and in 2012 over one hundred cyclists lost their lives.  You can read about how cyclists can stay safe on the road here.

Cave Diving

Officially the most dangerous sport in the world cave diving is considered so risky that many articles have been written examining the psychological effects of this incredibly dangerous activity.

One of the reasons this sport is so perilous is that even years of experience can count for nothing if you find yourself in difficulties.  In dark, enclosed spaces a person’s vulnerability to panic, anxiety and disorientation is amplified to an extreme degree and it becomes very easy to make disastrous mistakes. There is no light, limited oxygen and your exit route can be cut off in an instant.  This is not a sport for the faint of heart.

If you have been involved in a sporting injury, you may be able to make a claim. To take the first step, call Injury Lawyers 4U on 0333 400 4445 today, or fill in this form to arrange a call-back.

Protecting Your Child from Defective Products

One aspect of impending parenthood people look forward to the most is shopping for nursery furniture, buggies and baby clothes. With so many wonderful products and gorgeous attire available, it is easy get carried away with the aesthetics and forget to pay attention to the safety elements of the products you are purchasing. Babies and young children are extremely vulnerable to defective products, and unfortunately, there have been numerous incidents of serious injury and even death due to faulty merchandise.

So how can a new parent ensure the products they purchase for their precious child are safe? Are there certain things you should look out for when deciding what type of product to purchase?

This article will focus on four products; cots, changing tables, high chairs and pushchairs, examining how parents and caregivers can best ensure the safety of what they buy.


When it comes to where you place your baby to sleep, product safety is of paramount importance and the standards should not be compromised. In the United Kingdom, the cot you purchase should meet British Safety Standard BSEN716.

In the United States more children die every year in accidents involving cots than any other nursery product. In July 2009, a six month old baby boy in Fife, Scotland died when he became trapped between the mattress and the side of his cot. The inquiry into his death found the cot he was sleeping in “had a defect which rendered it unsafe” (as stated in the report). The manufacturer subsequently issued a safety device for the cot.

According to the European Child Safety Alliance: Child Product Safety Guide, when purchasing a cot you should ensure that:

• The spacing of the slats is no more than 6cm in width so a baby’s head cannot become trapped between the bars.
• The cot is less than ten years old, and is not broken or modified in any way.
• The gap between the edge of the mattress and cot bars is no more than two fingers’ width wide.
• If the cot is second-hand, it should not have a ‘drop-down’ type mechanism as these have been found to be unsafe.

Changing Tables

A moment’s inattention can result in a baby falling off a changing table. If you decide to purchase a changing table make sure it has a wide surface to lay your baby on when changing them, and a safety strap to secure your infant and prevent him or her from rolling off the table.

High Chairs

Study findings released in December 2013 showed that in the United States there had been a 22% increase in the number of injuries involving children under three years and high chairs between 2003 through to 2010. Each year, 9,400 American children are injured from falling out of a high chair, with head trauma being the most common type of injury sustained.

Most injuries from high chairs are caused by falls; therefore, it is important to pay attention to the safety strap that secures your child in the seat when purchasing the product. Ensure that:

• The waist belt has a buckle that cannot be fastened unless the crotch strap is in place.
• The base of the high chair is wide and heavy for stability. You want to ensure that your baby or toddler cannot tip the high chair over if they start to rock backwards and forwards.
• There is a post in between the child’s legs which will prevent them slipping out through the bottom of the high chair.

The high chair you purchase should conform to British Safety Standard BS EN 14988.


In 2009 Maclaren recalled a million pushchairs in the United States after reports that children had their fingers amputated by the pushchair folding mechanism. The company did not recall any pushchairs in the United Kingdom; however, they did make hinge covers available on request.

When purchasing a pushchair for your child, ensure that:

• It has a five-point harness. You may need to purchase this separately if buying a second-hand, older pushchair.
• The harness fits your infant or child snugly, and is made of good quality, strong material.
• The brake is effective and locks the wheels.

The British safety standard you are looking for when purchasing a pushchair is BS EN 1888.

In summary, checking products for possible defects, ensuring they meet British Safety Standards, and following the manufacturer’s instructions when assembling furniture can protect your child from receiving injuries from merchandise.

The Great British Pothole Problem

What do you get if you mix together a recession and a few years’ of cold, wet winters? The answer is potholes, and they are becoming an increasing cause of personal injury and sometimes even death on British roads.

So why are potholes becoming such a growing issue? What hazards do they cause to road users, and what can you do if you suffer a personal injury caused by a pothole and wish to make a claim?

Increasing on Britain’s roads

Potholes are caused by a combination of sun, cold, rain and vehicles. The constant stress of traffic and sun beating down on a road, over time causes the asphalt to crack, which in turn allows snow and rainwater to enter into the cracks and mix with the gravel and dirt underneath. The water then freezes, causing the cracks to expand, pushing out some of the gravel and dirt from under the asphalt. When the ice melts this leaves a hole, which grows bigger as traffic continuously drives over the rupture, fatiguing and straining the affected area even further.

However, Britain has just experienced a mild winter hasn’t it? Yes, we may have experienced moderate temperatures, but the winter of 2013/14 has been officially confirmed as the wettest on record. Unfortunately, even when the climate is relatively warm, excessive rainfall and flooding can eat away at the roads, causing potholes and other types of damage. Couple this with cuts to council budgets allocated to road repairs and it is clear why personal injuries caused by potholes are on the increase.

Personal Injury

Thousands of people suffer vehicle damage caused by potholes every year. However, potholes also contribute many instances of injury and even death on our roads, with cyclists and motorcyclists being particularly vulnerable. According to cycling charity groups, more than 1000 cyclists are injured every year due to unrepaired potholes.

Just a few weeks ago, a coroner investigating the death of a cyclist in North Yorkshire in 2011 ruled that in his mind, “there was no doubt whatsoever the condition of the road on that occasion was the cause of the accident”. The cyclist had been taking part in a fundraising event when his bike hit a deep pothole and he was thrown into the path of an oncoming car and killed instantly.

If you are injured and you believe your injury was caused by pothole in the road, it is important to take the following steps. This will help you make a personal injury claim against the council responsible for the maintenance of the road where the accident occurred:

•  Take a photograph of the road and the pothole itself. Try to show a sense of scale in the photograph by placing a ruler or tape measure inside the pothole to illustrate its depth.
•  Measure the pothole’s dimensions, its position (i.e. is it close to the kerb) and note any other defects in the road.
•  Take photographs of your injuries and any damage to your vehicle or bike.
•  Report the incident to your local council.

Local authorities are aware of the dangers of potholes and most make every attempt to fix them as soon as they are discovered or reported. However, always take special care when you encounter one on the road, especially if you are riding a motorbike or a bicycle. It is also important to report the pothole to your local authority to prevent others from sustaining nasty injuries if they fail to see the hazard.