Kids and balconies, a terrifying combination

by admin on November 18, 2013

Not only do parents who live in condos have to worry about their children falling into swimming pools, they also have to worry about them falling off balconies and out of windows. Too many times have I heard on the news about children falling to their death from balconies in condos, especially in Singapore, Hong Kong and China. It’s absolutely heart-breaking. Often the child has been left in the care of a relative or maid who hasn’t been watching them, or has even been left alone altogether.

It’s what every expat mum I meet who lives in a condo fears more than anything, and I’ve had emails and comments on this blog from expats who are moving to Singapore and who are worried about getting an apartment with a balcony. I thought it would be good to write a post about the risks and the safety precautions you can take to protect your children.

 

I read this article on The Asian Parent about a six year old falling off a balcony recently and it sounds like she’d been left on her own in the house. It’s terrifying to think she was SIX, that’s the same age as Miss C. While I’d never leave her alone at home, I also wouldn’t think for a minute she would do anything like that, but it just goes to show you, you just never know. Luckily the six year old girl survived, but the article also mentions a seven year old boy who recently fell to his death.

We live on the 5th floor of a condo. All the windows are locked permanently, but we have a balcony that is accessible through sliding doors, and the thought of one of my children falling off it gives me nightmares. It’s not something I’ve had to deal with before coming to Singapore and three years down the line it still terrifies me.

Baby C is only allowed on the balcony if an adult is present. BUT, she recent started to open the doors to the balcony herself so we had to take extra steps to ensure her safety. We looked at getting iron grilles installed around the sliding doors, but not all landlords will agree to it and it’s also very expensive. Instead, we got perspex sheets made up and fitted them around the balcony so she couldn’t climb up it. I know friends who have also put up mesh or something similar to chicken wire.

This solution is a step forward, but completely paranoid now, I worry that she might find something to stand on and climb up that way so we don’t have furniture out there and our water play table lives inside our living room.

A got a quote from a locksmith to put key locks on the doors and he said two key locks on would cost $180. He also told me I could get locks in Daiso for $2 (love that shop!), and what a nice man for letting me know.

locks for sliding doors, balconies,

So I got some and they’re brilliant. They easily fit on the base of the sliding doors, no screwing required. Although the locks don’t have keys, if you do them tightly enough, there’s no way little hands could undo them. You can still open the doors a few inches, although this means they don’t let much air in (unless you undo the locks).

The next thing we are going to do is buy a stair gate to fit between the balcony doors when they are fully open.

I can breathe just a little easier.

While I do love having a balcony because it’s nice to be able to get out into the open air without having to go down in the lift, you do have to be extremely vigilant and take precautions to ensure you child is safe at all times.

Just as you child-proof the inside of your home, it’s important to child-proof your balcony too.

Top tips for ensure your balcony is safe:

  • NEVER EVER leave your child unattended on a balcony.
  • Instruct your helper that your child is not allowed on the balcony unless she/you are present.
  • Install a barrier (mesh/wire/perspex) around the balcony railings if necessary to prevent climbing.
  • Remove all furniture, plant pots, or anything a child might be able to climb on.
  • Get key locks installed on the balcony doors and windows (locks that a child can’t unlock, such as the $2 locks from Daiso are also suitable as you can tighten them so children can’t open them).
  • Get grilles fitted if you prefer.
  • Get a stairgate that can fit between the balcony doors when they are open, so your child can’t get onto the balcony.
  • Keep windows around your apartment locked at all times or make sure they have safety catches so they can only be opened a little.

Note: This has to be the dullest image ever used in the history of 21st Century Mummy!

 

 

 

 

{ 2 comments }

kaci April 29, 2014 at 11:31 am

I’m taking my two kids on vacation in july, my son is “that” kid, who is always testing his boundaries and is all over the place. We are pretty high up, like the 7th floor. I HAVE to find one of those locks for the sliding doors. Do you know if there is a place I can order these locks?

admin May 19, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Sorry for not replying sooner! You can get them from Diaso in ION or Plaza Sing.

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