Fort Lauderdale, FL

Fort Lauderdale Diners Finish Their Meal With a Swim, After Decking Partially Collapses at Waterfront Restaurant

Toby Hazlewood

Diners forced to swim to safety

Diners at Flip Flops Dockside Eatery in Fort Lauderdale got more than they bargained for while enjoying the waterside views on January 22, when part of the restaurant's decking collapsed, dunking them into the water.

Diners on dockside tables were forced to swim for safety and while at least three adults were pulled from the water by fellow-diners, at least two people were taken to hospital with minor injuries.

Investigators from the Fort Lauderdale Fire and Rescue Battalion are now investigating the collapse of the decking, after reports of significant signs of decay.

A hazard of waterside dining?

If the decking at Flip Flops collapsed due to being poorly maintained, then the restaurant owner may be liable for the failure. But such accidents do happen from time-to-time.

Back in June 2013, a large section of decking collapsed at Shuckers waterside restaurant near Miami during a busy evening around the NBA Finals. Many of those drinking and dining found themselves tumbling into the water - around 100 people were on the deck at the time, and 33 were injured - 2 seriously - as a result of the incident.

Fortunately such accidents don't seem all that common. More often, those who fall in the water at waterfront restaurants are likely to have done so through slipping or stumbling, or because in some cases, they were drunk!

The danger of restaurants

Restaurants can be dangerous places to work, and the most common causes of injuries for those working in them are slips and falls, cuts and lacerations and burns. For customers, the other big source of danger is the potential for food poisoning which can sometimes be fatal.

While the CDC in Florida generally expects around 75 cases of serious food poisoning each year, in 2019 there were over 530 cases reported after an outbreak of cyclosporiasis. This was traced back to an imported batch of Basil that had originated in Mexico and which was carrying the parasites that cause this illness.

While there may be a small danger to diners presented by waterfront decking collapsing, they're at far greater risk of being poisoned than of being injured by an unexpected dunking in the water!

What's your favorite waterside dining venue in Florida? Are you concerned about the dangers presented by eating out, such as catching food poisoning? Let me know in the comments section below.

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