Sharjah: The municipality announced on Monday a new set of safety rules in high rise residential buildings that will be implemented within the next three months.
"The new rules were made in order to put a stop to children falling out from balconies and windows. The specifications will be put into effect once it is published in the municipality's regulation book for high rise buildings, which will happen sometime in the next three months," said Sultan Al Mualla, Director General of Sharjah Municipality.
The new rules will make building owners to increase the balcony height to at least 1.2 metres instead of one metre and that windows should be child-proof so that without the aid of an adult, they may only be opened at a maximum width of 10 centimetres.
The initiative was made after five children plunged to their deaths last year after falling from balconies and windows in high rise buildings across various areas in Sharjah.
"When the first accident happened, we repeatedly advised all residents not to leave furniture near windows, but that advice was ignored," said Al Mualla, pointing out that more children's deaths continued to occur because parents left their children unattended. "Such warnings were not enough and as we want to prevent these accidents from happening again, we decided to introduce these new specifications so that children will be safe at all times," he said.
Once the new edition of Sharjah Municipality's Regulation Book is published, the window and balcony specifications will be immediately enforced in all new buildings under construction in the emirate of Sharjah.
"Afterwards, we will place advertisements in newspapers to call the attention of building owners to modify their building's safety standard," Al Mualla noted.
He stressed that the municipality will organise inspection campaigns in residential areas to ensure that owners are complying with the regulations, and that the window locks have been installed.
However, Al Mualla pointed out that building owners will be required to seek the municipality's approval for any of these modifications to ensure that they are following the regulations, and do not diminish the safety of residents or the aesthetic view of the city.
He also added that frequent inspection is being carried out to ensure that balconies are not used as a storage rooms since children can climb on objects and fall down, in addition to posing as a fire hazard.