A top spinal surgeon has warned holidaymakers of the “life-changing” dangers posed by water parks and shallow diving during their summer breaks.
Evan Davies, a consultant spinal surgeon at University Hospital Southampton, said he operated recently on a patient who fractured his spine while diving on to hidden rocks in Croatia.
He also highlighted the case of 23-year-old David Briffaut, who snapped two vertebrae in his neck on a head-first water slide in Spain.
Mr Davies said people can feel “invincible” and act in a “moment of madness” while on holiday, but he urged travellers to continue to take normal precautions.
He said: “It is so important that in the excitement of being on holiday, people remember life can change in an instant, and that has been evident recently both in my own patient cases and in the news.
“When you are relaxed and enjoying the moment with family and friends, undoubtedly that feeling of fun and invincibility can take over.
“However as a spinal surgeon, I will often see the consequences of that moment of light-hearted fun – in the worst cases causing paralysis and, on some occasions, proving fatal.”
Mr Davies said he was “extremely concerned” to learn of the injuries sustained by Mr Briffaut on the “Splash” water slide in Benidorm, and he urged others to take note.
He advised people to make their own assessment of the risks at water parks.
He added: “What can often look on the face of it to be a quick and innocent thrill on these attractions can have potential to cause significant injury – that is something any impact head-on at high speed can cause.
“My message would be to remember that health warnings won’t be high on the agenda at many holiday attractions and destinations and, in many countries, regulations and monitoring can vary greatly.
“So carry out a quick assessment of your own when visiting attractions such as water parks and if you have a doubt about safety, avoid it.”
Mr Davies also said that despite regular warnings, he treats people injured by shallow diving almost every year.
He said: “We must continue to raise awareness of just how dangerous it can be for people to dive into water abroad in places they have no knowledge of and end up crashing into rocks.
“I have just recently operated on my first patient of the summer who fell foul of this and there will no doubt be more, and sometimes no level of surgery can recover the damage caused in a moment of madness.”