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| Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

A hotel in Norfolk is set to pay almost $11 million in damages to the family of a toddler who fell to his death on September 4, 2011. Elijah Clayton, the two year old child of Chelsye Clayton, suffered permanent brain injuries after slipping through a railway on the second floor walkway at a Ramada hotel. The death of Elijah Clayton highlights a concern of many vacationers this season, as we take a moment to remember the general dangers and potential safety risks of hotel balconies.

Each year, people fall to their deaths from hotel balconies across the country. Although some hotels have begun installing plexiglass surroundings to ensure safety, many balconies remain potentially hazardous for children who are small enough to fit through the railings. Keeping your children and infants away from railings will limit potential falling hazards and safety concerns. Although hotels can attempt to make balconies as safe as possible, if you or your children are utilizing them inappropriately, accidents may happen. Keeping your body inside the railings at all times, staying off any shelves or edges, and being aware of your surroundings, can mean the difference between fun and injury.

When embarking on your next vacation or checking in for a hotel stay, it is important that you check to make sure the hotel balcony is safe and secure. Rattle the railing to ensure structural integrity, note any visual problems or faults, and if you are at all concerned, contact the hotel supervisor immediately. Stay alert, informed, and safe this holiday season.

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