Sharjah: A spate of recent mishaps resulting in the death of children has prompted authorities in the UAE to warn parents and other caregivers against negligence.
Speaking to Gulf News, which has launched a campaign to highlight the need for child safety, Colonel Sami Khamis Al Naqbi, Director General of Sharjah Civil Defence, said the authorities will come down heavily on anyone — including fanmily members — if a child is found to be neglected.
“There will be zero tolerance in such cases. There have been incidents of children who suffocated to death due to the lack of awareness of their families.
“There will be zero tolerance in such cases,” he said. “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.”
He said that the department receives at least two reports related to children at risk. They include cases of kids being locked up in cars, inside rooms, bathrooms or being trapped in the elevator.
He said when inside a locked car, children not suffer from the effects of lack of oxygen and high temperatures, but can also endanger themselves by tampering with the mechanics of the car.
He said Sharjah Civil Defence in cooperation with other departments would continue to raise awareness through various campaigns and platforms, including Instagram and Facebook.
Col Al Naqbi said parental neglect topped the reasons for children falling from buildings, in addition to lack of building safety and security.
Such incidents, he said, should force parents and property owners to take preventive measures. “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.
The fact that these incidents continue to happen despite repeated warnings by the authorities shows that “some parents don’t learn lessons and insist on repeating the mistakes committed by other parents,” he said.
Col. Al Naqbi said such accidents occur more frequently during winter than summer, as parents keep windows and doors to balconies open.
Sharjah Civil Defence plans to distribute booklets and instructions as part of its awareness campaign. These booklets will be available in Arabic, English and Urdu.
Col. 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.
He urged parents and guardians to ensure that children are not left unsupervised at any time, whether in a car, mall or parking lot. He also said residents should secure their private swimming pools with either safety fences or slide covers so that children do not have ready access to them.
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.
- Residential building fall mishaps involving kids in Sharjah
- 2018: Two dead
- 2019: One injured
- 2017: Three dead
- 2016: Six dead
- 2012-15: 18 dead