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10 December 2023

Will Dubai increase window safety in high-rises for kids?

By Majorie van Leijen

"We have seen the apartments in Marina or Jumeirah Lakes Towers, where you could open the window with one finger, or even less," said Duri from Duma Safe, a Middle East child safety company.

"These windows are easy to reach and when one would bend over it is easy to fall. This is why incidents keep on happening here."

Last month a decree came into force in Abu Dhabi, compelling owners and property-management companies of residential buildings in the emirate to install safety devices that guarantee that the window cannot be opened more than 10 cm wide.

Similar rules are likely to be implemented in the emirate of Dubai too, officials have  suggested.

The UAE has seen a spate of incidents where children fall from high-rise buildings with mostly fatal consequences. In many of the buildings windows and balconies are not child-locked and can easily be opened wide enough for an infant to slip through. Also disabled adults are at risk, points Duri out.

Many point fingers to the contractors, for neglecting to create a child-proof environment in the apartment buildings. But apartments should not become like a prison, thinks Marwan Abdulla Al Mohammad.

Currently the required height of a window is at 90 cm from the surface, according to international standards. "This does not suddenly need to change without years of study. This distance is safe enough for people who are aware of the risks."

Lifting the windows or shielding them with iron bars would turn the house into a prison, thinks Marwan, although much can be done by the parent too, like not placing furniture nearby the windows and teaching children about the dangers in the house.

Duri believes that the responsibility always lies with the parent. "Families already live in unsafe buildings. It is already too late to blame the contractor.

"A child should never be left unattended. And when there is no safety lock on the window or balcony a parent should act by purchasing one," she says.