Thursday, June 6, 2013

Your Child’s Safety in Apartments

My heart goes out to a virtual friend who lost his son this week through a fall from an apartment building. It is not clear, how the boy fell off as the father works outside town, while the boy lives with the mother and other siblings in the city. The siblings watched helplessly as their brother fell from the third floor of the building where they live. With the help of good neighbors, the boy was rushed to hospital, but the doctors could not save him. The boy’s tender life was cut short unexpectedly.
                                                        Image Source courtesy of Basketman
When I learnt about this, a cold shiver went down my spine as I imagined how many children are at risk in the urban areas, including my boy. Home ownership is a pipe dream for most families and not even the current home prices are encouraging. I wonder how many of us can afford to buy a home without taking out mortgage? Besides, with increased population in the cities, property owners have to make good use of their land by building high-rise buildings to accommodate as many people as possible. While such homes are cheaper, they also turn out to be costly as far children’s lives are concerned.

There are safety policies that property owners should go by, but they have not put them in place. Take the fire safety policy as an example.  I have only seen a few apartments with fire extinguishers, which are maintained regularly. When it comes to balconies, tenants are left to fend for themselves and their children. Although some property owners have gone ahead to put up barriers  on balconies of apartments, most land lords have either not thought about children or are bending a rule somewhere.

It is upon us parents to make sure that our children are safe at all times while living in apartments. We can make certain of this by doing the following:
  •  Children should play on balconies and patios under supervision of adults. When children are left on     their own, they tend to explore the most of dangerous things.
  •  Placing furniture on balconies could lead to children climbing on them. Hence, it should be avoided.
  • When searching for vacant apartments, it is best to settle for those that have full barriers on the balconies, that is, from the ceiling downwards. In case they are metal bars, the gaps between them should not be wide since a child can slip through easily. The windows should also have strong barriers as children love to climb on them to see the world below.
  • Staircases should be free from strewn toys and other objects as they can cause falls.
  • Installing a gate to prevent crawling babies from getting to the staircase is a good idea. However, it should be adjustable or be removed when the baby grows old enough to manage climbing on it.
  • Incomplete buildings pose greater risks of falls for children. Therefore, no matter how inexpensive they may be, parents should avoid them.
  •         Children living in apartments with elevators should be taught on elevator safety.

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