Tragic accidents involving children should be prevented

January 02, 2019 - 09:00

A call to reduce tragic incidents of children falling to their deaths from high-rise apartments.

Low balcony railings at an apartment in Bình Thạnh District, HCM City, pose threats to children. — Photo
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI —  A five-year-old girl fell to death from the 9th floor apartment of Thủ Thiêm Sky Apartment Building on Sunday, December 23.

The incident happened in HCM City’s District 2. The little girl was alone at home at the time she fell after her parents brought her to her grandparent’s apartment so they could look after the child.

Because her grandparents were out at the time, her mother left her alone to watch TV.

According to initial investigation, the girl might have climbed on a washing machine and fallen to the ground.

The tragic story is just one in a series of recent fatalities involving children falling from balconies, raising an alarm for parents over the high-rise safety.

In the middle of November, a five-year-boy living in Dịch Vọng Street in Hà Nội suffered injuries after falling from the 7th floor of N03 Apartment Building. He was lucky as he fell into a tree canopy.

His grandfather had left home at the time to take his brother to school nearby. The boy was sleeping when his grandfather left the apartment. It is believed the child climbed over the existing balcony railing before falling.

Earlier, in May last year, a-five-year-old boy died after falling from the 17th floor of an apartment in Hà Nội’s Hà Đông District. The police said the child used a chair to climb out of the apartment’s window and fell to the ground.

Authorities say these tragic events could have been prevented if the adults took proper safety precautious.

“The accident with the five-year-old girl taught local residents a valuable lesson,” one resident living at Thủ Thiêm Sky, told Thanh Niên (Young People) newspaper.

According to the paper, most of households at apartment buildings in HCM City have installed grills on balconies to prevent children from falling.

“I know that installing iron cages is illegal and advertently blocked a fire escape but it was easy for little children to climb over the balcony and fell without it”, said Quỳnh, who lives in a building in District 9’s Phước Long B Ward.

According to Lê Hoàng Châu, chairman of HCM City Real Estate Association living at an apartment building is an inevitable trend in the urbanisation process. Therefore, the regulation on designing high-rise buildings issued in accordance with 2005 Housing Law needed to be amended in parallel with 2014 Housing Law.

In the past, apartment buildings are often about 20 floors but now some are as high as 40 floors. According to Vietnamese construction standards, the balcony is only applied to the 6th floor; loggia is applied from the 7th floor or more.

The question of allowing building a loggia and balcony for apartment building with over 30 floors should be calculated carefully, Châu said.

In order to ensure safety for children in apartment buildings, he said, besides asking investors to comply with the regulations of the Ministry of Construction, it was necessary for residents to strengthen supervision and warn children not climb over the balcony, stairs railings or loggia.

According to Vũ Ngọc Anh, director of Science-Technology and Environment under the Ministry of Construction, there are regulations relating to the construction of public housing and projects issued by the ministry to ensure the safety and health of residents.

Accordingly, balcony, loggia and open spaces including window must have grills and meet certain requests. Specifically, from 9th floor and above, balcony walls or steels are subject to have height of at least 1.4m and it’s hard for children to climb over. The technical requests were made to ensure the safety of local residents and suitable with the country’s climate condition and not causing difficulties to fight-fighters approaching in case of fire.

Anh also said the Ministry of Construction was completing the final draft on apartment buildings. All the above-mentioned regulations would be included in the draft, he added.

According to Huỳnh Quang Tâm, head of HCM City’s Fire Prevention and Fighting Office, investors were to be blame for not ensuring safety of the construction projects, leading to children-related accidents.

When constructing high-rise buildings, investors must follow certain regulation to ensure the safety for resident when it is put into operation, he said.

Households should teach their children about the danger of windows and balconies as well as survival skills relating to fire.

Trương Quang Định, director of HCM City Children’s Hospital, said under-five year-old children shouldn’t be left unsupervised in the house. Children are often curious so many tragic accidents have happened.  Parents should keep an eye on children to ensure that no regrettable incidents would occur, he said.  — VNS