Picture for illustrative purposes: 45 per cent rise in accidents involving kids in Sharjah Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

Sharjah: Sharjah Civil Defence have noted a 45 per cent increase in incidents involving children with 80 recorded in 2019 compared to 55 the year before.

In the first half of this year alone there have already been 29 with the risk of more as the summer takes hold and coronavirus restrictions see more children stuck at home.

Incidents ranged from children being left in hot cars to falling from balconies and drowning in pools, and throughout the common thread binding them all was child neglect.

“There will be zero tolerance in such cases,” said Colonel Sami Khamis Al Naqbi, Director General of Sharjah Civil Defence in an exclusive interview with Gulf News.

“There have been incidents of children who suffocated to death due to the lack of awareness of their families. Children are unaware of the hazards and the risks surrounding them. It is therefore the responsibility and the role of the parents to ensure their child’s safety first.”

Al Naqbi said Civil Defence in cooperation with other departments would continue to raise awareness through campaigns via online platforms.

“Parents should supervise their children, make sure windows are closed and avoid keeping any objects that will help children climb on to windows and balconies,” he said.

He warned parents against leaving their children unattended and to instruct housemaids to keep an eye on them.

Al Naqbi stressed on the need to adhere to safety standards in residential buildings and means of transport to avoid accidents.

He said while the public administration and government institutions promote community awareness and put systems in place to preventive mishaps involving children, their safety primarily rests on the shoulders of parents who need to stay alert at all times.

Al Naqbi also advised not to let children near electronic devices or gas pipelines.

Mothers are urged not to leave hot bowls on tables, switch off ovens, or leave the clothes iron on when children are around. They are also urged to watch out for the safety of their children near swimming pools to avoid accidental drowning.

Al Naqbi is also focusing on the importance of knowing all types of fire incidents that might take place in a house, learning how to put the fire out, and appointing a family member to provide help for children, elderly and people of determination in emergencies.

What the law says

Article 349 of the UAE Federal Penal Code stipulates that whoever, by himself or by means of others, endangers a juvenile under 15 years of age, or a person unable to protect himself due to his health, mental or psychological condition, shall be punished by detention for a period not exceeding two years.’

The penalty increases to three years if the child is left unattended at the time of an incident.

Number of accidents involved children
2018: 55 incidents
2019: 80 incidents
Beginning of 2020 till mid June: 29 incidents