How to minimise holiday dangers

Families with young children should be especially risk-averse - if your accommodation has a balcony, check the height and robustness of the railings

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The Independent Travel

Carbon monoxide, which killed Christi and Bobby Shepherd as they slept in their hotel room in Corfu, is an invisible, odourless danger. Cheap and effective detectors can help alert us to the presence of the gas.

Thankfully, changes brought in since 2006 mean that all UK tour operators should make absolutely sure there is no possible source of incomplete combustion (typically a badly maintained water heater) anywhere near guests' accommodation. But consider a detector when you are planning an independent trip, especially in the developing world where safety standards tend to be far lower.

Driving standards are lower, too. Statistically, by far the biggest risk to any British family travelling abroad is on the roads.

The UK has one of the best records on road safety. As soon as you cross the Channel, the risks multiply. The latest World Health Organisation figures on road deaths worldwide are horrific: 1.24m deaths in a year, which equates to one fatality per second. So, opt for professionally driven coaches rather than renting a car, and consider switching from road to rail or air where possible. And, as banal as it might sound, be very, very careful when crossing the road.

Families with young children should be especially risk-averse. If your accommodation has a balcony, check the height and robustness of the railings, and keep the door locked if you have any doubts. Before you settle in, cast an eye on the electrics – particularly in the bathroom and kitchen. Satisfy yourself that the wiring is safe, and that there's no danger of toddlers getting their fingers into mains sockets.

Next, rehearse the route to the emergency exit, just in case you have to find your way in the dark. Follow the signs all the way to the door that gives access outside – and check that the exit isn't blocked.

Finally, be wary of water. With young children, the pool is always a danger area. Check it is fenced in, and that the depths are marked.