Horror end to family’s Bali holiday
An Australian father is warning holidaying families about the safety of power-points in Bali after he claims his baby son was injured and lost part of his finger after touching one at a five-star villa.
Dale, from Melbourne, and his partner were holidaying with their now one-year-old son at the resort in Ubud over the Father's Day weekend in September.
But Dale's first Father's Day turned to horror when his son was injured after touching a power point low on the wall of their self-contained villa.
Dale said he was in the bedroom on the family's last day in Ubud when he heard his partner let out a "crazy" scream.
"My partner was brushing her teeth in the bathroom and (my son) was moving around the villa, crawling around and trying to walk," he told news.com.au.
"Then she screamed out. I thought she might have been bitten by something. But she said, 'He's been electrocuted'.
"She passed him to me and she said 'it's his index finger' and it was just blown to pieces, basically. At the time it looked like it was about to come off."
Dale said when his partner heard the baby cry out, she saw his little finger up against the power point and initially thought he'd gotten it stuck.
"So she's run over and she's grabbed him and she's gotten electrocuted and thrown off him," Dale said.
"When she went back the second time she managed to pull him off."
The resort has rejected Dale's suggestion it was responsible for the child's injuries and said its safety standard passed government regulations.
Dale said he and his partner were "screaming for an ambulance", but as there were no ambulances in the area, hotel staff drove them to a nearby medical centre, where the baby's third-degree burns, including entry and exit wounds, were treated and dressed.
The baby is still being treated at the burns unit of the Melbourne Royal Children's Hospital.
A medical certificate from a paediatric plastic surgeon at the hospital, seen by news.com.au, said the injury was "consistent with him introducing one finger into an electrical source". The certificate noted there was no injury pattern that suggested the baby used anything other than his finger to touch the outlet.
"He's actually missing a piece of his finger now," Dale said.
"The senior doctor at the burns unit said he actually couldn't believe it was a domestic power point that did that. They don't see that degree of injury in Australia because we have safety switches."
Bali uses a European-style outlet with two round prongs too small for even an infant's finger to fit.
Dale said he believed the power point was live when it shouldn't have been, and there was no residual current device that would have stopped the baby from being shocked.
He said he spoke to the resort's general manager the next morning and said he believed the power point was faulty.
He said the manager was apologetic and offered to refund the family the cost of their stay - about $1000 - and a free three-night's stay should they wish to ever return. The resort has since rejected this claim and said no compensation money was offered or had been paid.
"He was very apologetic. He said, 'There's been some learnings for us as well'," Dale said.
"They actually came into the room and electrical taped all of the electrical outlets."
But later, in Melbourne - after the couple had cancelled the rest of their trip, losing thousands of dollars, and got the baby cleared to fly - he found communication with the resort's manager to be difficult.
"I sent him an email, it was a fairly stern email, saying 'we hold you responsible for it, both morally and legally, there's no way a power point should be live'," Dale said.
"We said, 'we're not going to ask you for material damages, we're reasonable people, but we've lost about $3000, which is not much money but still, and we'd expect you to do the right thing and cover that cost'."
He said the resort refunded him about $500, half of the cost of their stay, although the resort denies this.
When he pressed the resort's manager on the issue, he was told he and his partner had been negligent parents and the baby's injury was their fault.
In an emailed statement to news.com.au, solicitors on behalf of the resort rejected Dale's suggestion it was responsible for the child's injuries and said its safety standard passed government regulations.
"Each of our villas are located in 300 square metres of space surrounded by a private wall, therefore our client (the resort) cannot control our guest activities at all times," the statement read.
"Our client respects all of our guests' privacy inside the villa compounds. Therefore, every guest needs to take precaution within the villas, the private pools, steps, electrical sockets, etc during their stay.
"Obviously there needs to be a higher precaution taken when bringing (in) children, especially babies.
"We presume that (the baby's parents) allegedly (committed) negligence by not supervising their baby at all times."
The statement noted resort staff had seen chargers in the room, which Dale said had nothing to do with the baby's injury.
Solicitors for the resort also said it used a brand of power sockets commonly found in four- and five-star hotels worldwide that were fitted with an "interlock standard that intended to avoid ingress of objects".
"Our client's electrical safety standard has passed the government regulation as well as health and safety standard from Australian and European tour operator," the statement said.
The solicitors said the resort did not offer Dale compensation money, and "our client never give (sic) any compensation money".
An email from the resort to Dale after the event had said as "goodwill as hoteliers, to show our hospitality and empathy we decided to refund the money of your stay at our resort".
"However, when you take this generous gesture to the other direction by seeking more compensation, this is totally unacceptable and we will not tolerate this."
Dale said as a last-ditch attempt he tried asking the resort for compensation of more than $10,000 "for pain and suffering" through a solicitor, to no avail.
Dale - who has professional experience in the compliance industry - said the best he could do now was warn other holidaying parents.
"For us, purely from the principle of it now, there's absolute risk that it's going to happen again … It could kill a child and it could kill an adult," he said.
"If they had come back the first time and said, we're sorry it happened and we'll take steps to address it, that would have been the end of it. But the fact they just blatantly put the blame on us, it's burning me up.
"I think it's important people are aware the standard of electrical work over there is sketchy at best and people need to be aware that if they've got kids, they're not safe once they're in the villa, even if you are in a five-star place.
"And also for people to be aware of the fact when something goes wrong, you can't expect people to do the right thing and take steps to make sure it doesn't happen again."