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UAE: Children falling from buildings on the rise during winter; authorities urge caution

More than 30 children died over the past 10 years after falling out of windows or balconies



by

Afkar Ali Ahmed

Published: Sat 5 Feb 2022, 11:32 AM

Last updated: Sat 5 Feb 2022, 10:48 PM

Following the tragic deaths of two children who fell from high-rise buildings on the same day in separate incidents, authorities in the UAE have urged families to be vigilant.

Top officials at the Sharjah and Fujairah police departments have said such accidents increase during the winter, as many families keep their windows open or sit outside in the balcony to enjoy the cool weather. If doing so, authorities urged families to establish controls to protect young children.

The Fujairah Police official called for the importance of installing metal bars on windows to prevent children from accidentally falling. He also advised parents to install window bumpers and keep furniture or toys away from windows to ensure children don't climb on them to see the street.

Brigadier Ahmed Al Serkal, director of Sharjah Police, stressed the need to always close the balcony, keep the key hidden from children, and avoid using the balcony as a gathering place for older children to entertain visitors.

Accident cases

Authorities have said more than 30 children died between 2012 and 2022 after falling out of windows or balconies.

Why does it happen?

Negligence by parents and the presence of furniture and various objects in balconies or near windows are the main causes of such accidents involving children.

Preventive measures

Since 2017, the Sharjah Municipality has made a series of amendments to technical requirements of windows and balconies, said Obaid Al Tunaiji, director-general of the municipality.

As a result, landlords and contractors have raised the height of windows and balconies to 120cm instead of 1m, as was previously permitted. They were also required to install safety locks to prevent windows from opening for more than 5 to 10cm.

Landlords and contractors were also asked to use railings that children cannot climb over. Last year, the municipality allowed tenants of residential apartments to put up a translucent acrylic barrier on their balcony railings after obtaining the necessary permit.

Al Tunaiji said the Sharjah Municipality conducted a massive awareness campaign titled ‘Safety of Our Children is Our Responsibility’ in partnership with Sharjah Police, Sharjah Civil Defence, Sharjah Urban Planning Council and Sharjah Prevention and Safety Authority.

The campaign was aimed at achieving the target of zero accidents and it produced significant results, bringing down the number of accidents to just one so far this year. The campaign targeted all Sharjah residents, especially those living in commercial areas.

Colonel Sami Al Naqbi, director-general of Sharjah Civil Defence, urged families in the Emirate not to leave children unaccompanied near balconies and windows in residential buildings.

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“Children must not be left anywhere near windows or balconies unaccompanied by parents or adult family members under any circumstances in order to avoid tragic incidents of children falling off high-rise buildings,” he said.

He also asked residents to report faulty locks in windows or balconies to the building management to assure their children's safety.

The authorities have been continuously monitoring all neighbourhoods and residential buildings to ensure they adhere to the highest safety norms to protect precious human lives and properties of all residents.

Know the law

According to Article 35 of the Child Protection Law, also known as Wadeema Law, parents whose children die after falling off high-rise buildings or any other kind of child abuse will be penalised.

Article No. 60 of the law stipulates fines of Dh5,000 and a jail term of not less than a year for parents who neglect children.

Safety steps to protect children

- Move furniture away from windows and balconies. A bed, couch or other furniture allows a child to get closer to a window.

- Only open windows that are outside of a child's reach or climbing distance. Open double-hung windows from the top. A child can fall from a window even if it's opened about five inches.

- Window screens will not keep your child from falling. If you must open a window within a child's reach or climbing distance, install an operable window guard. Window guards have horizontal bars no more than four inches apart that screw into the side of a window frame. They are available in different sizes.


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