SHARJAH // Strict new safety regulations for apartment windows have come into effect after eight children fell to their deaths in two years.
Windows in all new buildings must be at least 1.2 metres off the ground and in older properties they must have devices to prevent them opening wider than 10 centimetres.
Using verandas and balconies for storage is also banned because of the safety risk to children, under new rules issued yesterday by Sharjah Municipality.
Twelve children have fallen from apartment windows in the emirate in the past two years, eight of them fatally. The most recent incident was in December last year when a Syrian boy aged 3 fell to his death from the window of a 14th-floor apartment on Jamal Abdul Nasser Road.
"We are going to start a series of inspection campaigns to ensure that all these rules are implemented in all residential buildings," said Sultan Al Mualla, director general of Sharjah Municipality.
Municipality engineers are still studying ways of improving window safety in older buildings. Control locks that restrict window opening are already on the market and do not require specialist fitting, Mr Al Mualla said.
"Verandas should not be used to store items. A number of children have fallen from these verandas when they were asked to collect things there.
"Using verandas as stores is also a fire risk and has to be stopped," the director general said.
He also cautioned parents against allowing their children to climb on furniture, which could give them access to windows.