Whenever we hear of high-rise accidents related to children, it’s usually a toddler or baby who’s involved. But a heart-stopping incident recently reported from China in which a five-year-old boy clings to balcony for a full 30 minutes, showing us that older kids are not exempt from high-rise accidents, too.
If the child fell, it would have been certain death.
Boy Clings to Balcony of 19th Floor Flat: What Happened?
The image makes our hearts race and hair stand on end. It’s taken from top-down, and we see a child clinging on to a balcony rail for dear life. He is hanging on from the dizzying height of 19 floors above the ground.
According to South China Morning Post, the incident happened on 11 July in the city of Dazhou, Sichuan province. Reportedly, the little boy was seen by neighbours hanging on to the balcony grille at around 6am that day.
Reports say the child had fallen from the 20th floor. Miraculously, he managed to grab on to the balcony below him. Had he not caught on to the balcony, it would have been sure death for the boy.
The neighbours called the police, who rushed to the scene. It was almost 30 minutes before the little boy was pulled to safety by the police, who had to force their way into the 19th-floor flat.
Apparently, no one had been home when the child woke up. He went to the balcony to look outside and see where everyone was, when he plunged over the edge.
High-Rise Safety Precautions
We are glad the child is safe. But why do incidents like this keep happening over and over again? In France, in May 2018, a man scaled many floors up a building to rescue a child who was dangling from a balcony. In another case, a little girl was spotted hanging by her head, which was stuck between balcony railings, from the fourth floor of a building.
These children were lucky. Other incidents ended in death. In February 2018, a four-year-old girl in India plunged to her death from the tenth floor of her apartment.
These accidents are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to high-rise risks for kids. Clearly, there’s a lack of awareness among many adults about high-rise safety.
So what can you do?
1. Install grilles on your windows
They prevent your child from falling through an open window. Remember to lock them up if ever opened.
You may contact the following companies for information about installing safety grilles in your home:
2. Keep the area around windows and balcony walls clear of any large objects that a child can climb on
A child’s penchant to climb things means that anything can be used as a ladder to reach open windows.
3. Keep an eye out for objects that when thrown, can break windows
These objects include marbles and heavy toys.
4. Lock the windows and the door to your balcony when you are not around
Make it a habit — leave a note at the place where you keep your keys so you will be reminded about it whenever you head out.
5. Teach your child about the dangers of windows and balconies
Explain to them why heights are dangerous instead of just telling them not to do something. If your child is old enough to understand simple instructions, you should make it a firm rule that he’s not allowed to open the window, or climb up the window.
Explain the dangers of what can happen if they do so. Find educational videos online to teach them about this as well.
6. NEVER leave your child alone in the house
Do not take this risk. Experts warn against leaving your young child home alone even for a short period of time because as Dr Carol Balhetchet, Senior Director for youth services at the Singapore Children’s Society, explains, “Within seconds, a three-year-old can do all sorts of things as they see the world with curiosity.”
7. Lock the door to your balcony
If the management of your apartment complex does not permit grilles to be installed on your balcony, then ensure that the door to this area is kept locked at all times when you are not with your child.
Even if your balcony is surrounded by protective bars, please check that a small child cannot squeeze through them (like Eric Wong did, with deadly consequences).
If you think they are too widely spaced apart, speak to the management of your apartment about the possibility of implementing an appropriate and safe solution to the problem.
8. Caution all other caregivers of your child
Helpers and other caregivers of your children MUST take high-rise safety precautions very seriously. In the reports mentioned earlier in this article, other than when the child was left alone, in most other cases the child had been left with a caregiver not his/her parents.
It cannot be stressed enough — your child’s caregiver must watch them at all times. Caution them that even if they are carrying your baby or toddler, they need to stay away from the edge of your balcony. A child of this age can wriggle out their caregiver’s arms in a flash.
Sometimes, we cannot foresee danger when it threatens our children. But other times, we can, and stopping our kids from falling to their deaths from high-rise homes is one very clear example.
Source: South China Morning Post