Last Saturday, December 9, news agencies reported the death of a 4 -year-old boy after falling from the 39th floor of a condominium unit in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.
PhilStar.com reported the child fell after he climbed on a table in the balcony and landed on a canopy of the building's second-floor terrace. He was rushed to St. Luke's Medical Center in BGC but was declared dead on arrival at around 12:05 p.m. The investigation is ongoing, and the police are interviewing several concerned individuals to determine the circumstances before the incident.
This tragic accident highlights the importance of precautions parents need to take if they live in a mid-rise or high-rise condominium. Here are tips to keep your balcony safe:
1. Keep benches, tables, and chairs, away from the balcony railings. Children who want to climb over the railing or just on the furniture for a better view of the outdoors are at risk of falling. If you have a limited balcony space, keep it furniture-free. Just bring out some chairs if you want to entertain guests there.
2. Check the railing's gaps. "A child as old as age 6 can fit through a gap as small as six inches," shared Shelley Forest on The Bump. The gap in between bars should be no more than four inches in between to prevent even the smallest children from fitting between the vertical bars. Thin railings make them impossible to sit on, while vertical railings are a no-no since it's easier to climb on them.
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Kids' Health stresses that if a balcony is more than one meter above ground level, it must have a railing or a barrier. Even if you don't live in a condo but have a second-floor terrace in your home or apartment, it should have railings.
3. Keep doors to balconies locked at all times. Even young kids can accidentally figure out locks, so it's best to install two different kinds of locks. If your home has a sliding door, you can place a narrow board on the door's track to prevent it from sliding open.
4. Teach your child about safety. Always supervise the kids, and be at arm's length from them at all times. Nifty innovations that help keep kids safe, such as Anti-Grabbity, a transparent prickly strip that attaches onto flat balcony railings to discourage kids from holding them and climbing over, are available online.
Even better? Teach your child the safety measures and to follow the rules, so whenever she sees railings on an elevated area, she'll know what to do. Establish some basic rules, such as:
Balconies are off limits unless they are with an adult.
They can only play board games on the balcony and always with an adult.
No climbing onto furniture in the balcony or on balcony railings.
5. Conduct regular safety checks. Since balconies are technically outdoors, it's subject to the weather wear and tear. Check railings and locks regularly to make sure they're still working correctly. If you find some cracks or rust that compromise safety, repair or replace as soon as possible.