Sharjah residents must contact the municipality and receive approval before installing additional safety grilles on windows and balconies. Image Credit: Jumana Khamis/Gulf News

Dubai: The fear of children falling to their death from high-rise buildings is growing among Sharjah residents.

Parents told Gulf News that they are concerned about their children’s safety at home, but Sharjah Municipality says residents have to seek permission before installing grilles in their balconies and windows.

In 2013-14, seven cases of children dying after falling from windows and balconies were reported in the UAE, of which four were in Sharjah. Most cases came as a result of negligence and a lack of safety locks. 

Laws are in place banning Sharjah residents from installing safety grilles on their balconies without permission from the Sharjah Municipality. Violators face a Dh250 fine.

Thajudeen Sahib, an Indian father of two, fears that his children’s lives are at risk without the safety rails on his balcony. The family of four lives on the first floor of a residential building located on Mina Road. “I had nailed down the safety grilles on my balcony to avoid accidents and especially because the balcony door does not have a lock,” said Sahib, who works at etisalat in Dubai. 

Shortly after installing the safety grilles, Sahib was forced to take them down as he received a warning from the municipality, claiming that the grilles ruin the overall beauty of the building.

“They issued me a warning when they came for inspection and told me to remove it immediately otherwise I would be given a Dh250 fine.”

Sahib, like many other concerned parents, said that the grilles, which are made of aluminium, make little difference to the image of the building but play a big role in keeping his children safe.

With numerous cases of children falling due to the lack of safety of windows and balconies, Sahid said he has contacted the municipality several times for a possible solution, and has not received a reply.

Abdullah Al Mansouri, Head of Sharjah Municipality, told Gulf News that residents must contact the municipality and receive approval before installing additional safety grills on windows and balconies. “Residents have to send a request to the municipality to ensure that the safety grilles do not spoil the overall beauty of the building.” Buildings in Sharjah are constructed according to the city’s building regulations, which are in line with global building standards.

Rules for windows

The rules and regulations for the safety of windows and balconies state that all window sills should be built at least one metre from the ground, said Al Mansouri. The rules also state that balcony rails must be at least one metre high, and windows and balcony doors should be secured with safety locks.

“In order to abide with global safety standards, we have made modifications to the rules and regulations in Sharjah by increasing the safety height from 1 metre to 1.2 metres.”

While safety measures are included within building regulations, Al Mansouri urged parents to take extra precautions inside the house by securing balcony doors and windows.