By Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye
KOTA KINABALU: The Alliance for Safe Community expresses its serious concern over the recent spate of children falling to their deaths from high-rise residential buildings which have been extensively covered by the media.
Some simple, basic rules can go a long way to ensure the safety of children living in high-rise apartments or condos with balconies.
These include installing proper safety railings, putting away furniture and other climbable objects form the edge of balconies and keeping doors to balconies locked.
Ensuring child safety should be prioritised in view of the increasing number of cases of children falling off high-rise buildings. Recently, there were three such reported accidents.
Three years ago in 2018 recognizing this danger, the then Minister of Housing and Local Government Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin had said that the Ministry would be looking into implementing new safety measures at high-rise buildings.
According to her then, the Uniform Building By-Laws 1984 has set that balcony railings (of tall buildings) cannot be less than one metre high. At the same time, she said she does not want houses to feel like prisons (by making the railings too high).
Nevertheless, she added that the Ministry would relook the structure to see whether specifications in the law need to be changed.
We have not heard anything since. What has happened? Can the Ministry please revisit this issue?
I think it does not matter if higher railings make the apartments look less aesthetic from the outside. That’s a small price to pay for being safe inside.
It will be good if the Ministry could also amend existing bylaws to require old and new high-rise apartments to install movement sensors that could detect the presence of children in balconies and then trigger audio warnings.
Such sensors, or balcony alarms, are also suitable for various other applications including notifying people of fire, floods, or the presence of toxic fumes.
But all the safety measures and safety devices cannot replace the responsibility of parents. Their responsibility is fundamental. They should always be vigilant against leaving their kids alone in high-rise balconies or expose them to other potential dangers.
The managers of the buildings they live in should organize campaigns in various forms to remind occupants the importance of safety for high-rise accomodation.
There must be no compromise when it comes to the safety of children.
ALLIANCE FOR SAFE COMMUNITY.