safety on holiday

A very long weekend

After what has been an extremely long weekend (normally that would be something to look forward to) I am relieved to think that perhaps all of the fires are out now and we can resume our normal lives. Last week I was telling you about the Nit de L’Art in my little village, s’Arracó which is in the Andratx area. Little did we know that the next day we would be hitting the headlines again for our own personal Nit de Foc (night of fire). After a sleepless night watching the hills which surround our village burning and then three more days of constant helicopter flights and Twitter updates with the fire spreading to St Elm and back up to Estellencs and over to the Galatzo estate some things have become very clear to me.

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500 portions of salad
(No sign of a Big Mac though)

1) If you are going to have a natural disaster don’t worry about catering as the local people will literally bring crate upon crate of food until you are begging for them to stop. “No more bocadillos!” was one of the Twitter updates from our local council where the operations room was. We saw photos of mounds of fruit and vegetables, stacks and stacks of boxes of salad, buckets of bottled water.

2) Don’t believe anything unless you have seen it yourself or it has come from an official source. Really. Gossip spreads like wild fire (I know, couldn’t be helped), and is just speculation. It only frightens people more.

3) If you haven’t already been to the Sa Trapa area of St Elm and had a walk up there to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and views, well you’d better get in touch with http://www.gobmallorca.com the local environmental group here on our island which will be getting the rehabilitation project for the area underway in September. The area is stunning but has been severely damaged by the fire and now resembles the surface of the moon. You can visit their website and sign up to volunteer right there on the front page. The site is in Catalan but if you can’t read Catalan then view it through an internet browser that does instant translations and you will be fine.

4) Our local community has balls of steel. Everyone stuck together, offered help and stayed calm.

5) We are extremely lucky to have such amazing fire fighters, both on the ground and in the air. What an incredibly brave group of people.

Matthew Clark

Thank you. 

6) The guy who started the fire by accident did so by disposing of smouldering embers from the previous night’s bbq. It was not a German resident burning stubble in his garden. (see point number 2).

For now, let’s appreciate and care for what we have been blessed to live amongst, please don’t throw cigarette ends out of your car, don’t burn rubbish in your back garden and don’t leave a BBQ unattended. It really can happen, just like that, and don’t we all know it now.

Stay safe. Vx

(P.S. I’ll tell you about the Night of Art and the “peg crisis”, and the Stand Up Comedy course, Wendy, brown trousers and performances next time).  

P.P.S. Thank you to Matthew Clark for the amazing photo of the airborne firefighters.

Holiday crisispoint

I was driving through Magaluf last weekend when a man walked out in front of my car. He was lucky as El Topolino (my ancient Polo) doesn’t go very fast anyway. But there was something about the way the guy was conducting himself that really stuck in my mind. It could have been the fact that he was walking around in broad daylight in the smallest pair of budgie smugglers that I have seen in a long while. What is it about being on holiday that makes normal people think it is okay to go shopping with only their underpants on? Or perhaps it was the fact that he did literally saunter across the road in front of me ‘It’s okay I’m on holiday, nothing bad can happen to me here’.

It’s that false sense of security that holiday makers get. I don’t know if it is the weather that makes them feel relaxed, the lack of, or change of, routine, possibly an increase in booze consumption. But whatever it is, it makes regular people act as if they have been spellbound by their vacation. That’s okay if you’re walking around in the land of milk and honey where nothing bad ever happens… but we know this isn’t true. There have been some seriously unpleasant things going on in Magaluf already this season: three young people have died in three separate accidents where they have fallen from balconies or stairwells, and several inebriated men have been mugged by gangs of prostitutes.

We can’t change the behaviour of the tourists, they’re on holiday, and they’ve got the ‘nothing bad will happen’ attitude. We need to wrap these people up in cotton wool; we need more police on the beat in the resort to keep the peace and to keep people safe. We should be doing what we can to make sure our visitors stay safe on holiday and have a good time without being preyed upon by gangs of thieves or ending up in hospital or worse. Yes, it’s all very well putting a warning on the Foreign Office’s website, but that’s not going to have any impact on the people who go to Maga on holiday. The only purpose that serves in reality is to act as an ‘I told you so’ riposte after the tragic event has occurred.

Apparently the balconies are the standard height for European hotels. I just read this on a tour operator’s website: ‘Please take extra care on balconies after drinking alcohol’. It’s just not going to make any difference. How many people who are out on holiday are going to think to themselves ‘Ooh, hang on, I’ve just drunk ten pints and ten tequila shots. I must make sure I take extra care on the balcony’. Now I’ve heard that the Hoteliers are going to write ‘guidelines’, it’s just another document to say ‘Not our fault, we accept zero responsibility’. No. We have to keep these people safe. If the current accident frequency continues there could be twenty deaths by the end of the summer season. Come on Calvia Council, and the local Hotelier Association, and the Balearic Government. Stop having meetings about this problem, and get something done about it.

http://www.familymattersmallorca.com