Your child’s life depends on you: let’s stop high-rise building deaths now

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Is your high-rise home safe enough to prevent your child from falling down from the balcony or window? Are your child's other caregivers aware of high-rise home safety precautions?

Imagine for a moment you are viewing the world through the eyes of a small child.

You just love exploring and are so curious about everything – including what amazing thing there must be on the other side of that balcony wall.

The wall is short and you only need your little chair pushed up against it to lean over and look over. So you do exactly that because you have no real understanding of danger. Or gravity.

Mums and dads: you know what will probably happen next if you or another caregiver are not around at this exact moment.

A split second is all it takes — you know this.

One death too many

It was with a sad heart that not too long ago, I read the latest report about a little girl who was the most recent victim of a high-rise building death.

Deaths such this are completely preventable, yet over and over again we read news stories about little children falling from tall buildings.

Why are we letting our children die like this?

Just look at these reports:

  • In 2011, a six-year-old boy fell to his death from his fifth storey flat in Tampines.
  • Also in 2011, a three-year old British girl fell to her death from the 16th floor of her Mount Elizabeth apartment.
  • In 2012, a two-year-old boy fell to his death from the fourth floor of his condominium in Upper Bukit Timah.
  • In 2013, one year and nine month old Eric Wong Yu Hao, fell to his death after squeezing through the bars of the balcony at a Hillview Green condominium in Upper Bukit Timah. This was just two months after a similar tragedy was narrowly averted.
  • Also in 2013, a six-year-old girl fell six storeys from her Yishun apartment. Luckily, she survived.
  • In 2015, a three-year-old boy was in critical condition after falling from his sixth storey Queenstown flat.
  • In 2015, a four-year-old boy fell to his death from his Yishun apartment.
  • In 2016, a three-year-old girl died a month after falling from her fourth storey flat in Serangoon North. She had been left alone at the time.

As you can see, there have been far too many heart-breaking reports of children falling from high-rise apartments. Sometimes they are left severely injured, but most often, these little ones have no escape from death.

All these incidents beg the following questions:

Why had no safety grilles been installed? In the case of little Eric Wong who narrowly escaped death once before actually falling to his death – why weren’t precautions taken the second time around? Why did these kids have such easy access to the balconies of their homes? Why had some of the kids who died been left alone at home? Where were the caregivers when these children fell?

We need to start taking the safety of our children much more seriously when it comes to childproofing our homes, especially as a community of mostly high-rise dwellers.

Our homes hold additional dangers to little ones in the form of windows, doors and balconies that are many feet above the ground, and are extremely tempting to curious young children to peek over to find out what’s on the other side — with devastating consequences.

Parents, let’s together pledge to take a stand against these totally preventable high-rise building deaths of kids.

We need to educate ourselves about solid and effective childproofing measures in our homes, including, of utmost importance, the installation of safety grilles in all windows, and balconies whenever possible.

But just educating ourselves is not enough. Knowledge about these safety measures must be put to effect immediately, and it’s equally important that other caregivers of our children know what these precautions are and follow them precisely.

Please head to the next page for some extremely important information about what you can do to keep your high-rise home safe and sound for your little one’s sake.

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 could 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 curiosity and penchant to climb things means that such things can be used as ladders to reach otherwise unreachable open windows.

3. Keep an eye out for objects that when thrown, can break windows

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 such a thing is dangerous instead of just telling them not to do it. 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 at all times.

Explain the dangers of what can happen if they do so and if it helps, find educational videos online to teach them about this as well.

baby cage Your child’s life depends on you: let’s stop high rise building deaths now

We’d like to think that we’ve progressed from the days when parents in Britain in the 1930s thought such cages (designed to let their babies get fresh air and sunlight) were safe. But by not taking proper safety measures in our own high-rise homes, can we really say that we have progressed? Image: Pinterest.

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.

Don’t wait any longer to take the simple, yet effective safety precautions outlined in this article — your child’s life depends on you to do this.

What else can we do to stop tragedies of this nature from happening? Share your thoughts in a comment below.