New Drummoyne Real Estate Safety Legislation

After experiencing an alarming increase in the number of children falling from windows and balconies in residential buildings over recent years, Sydney’s Children’s Hospital at Westmead (CHW) put together a working party in 2009 to tackle the issue.

The total number of falls nationally is not clear, but statistics collated by CHW show the age group most likely to fall are children aged between two and four years old – toddlers are top heavy, making them more prone to falls, and also have a high level or curiosity without the ability to judge danger. Boys are at a higher risk of injury than girls, with a fall ratio of 2:1. Sadly, one in five children who fall does not survive the accident.

Representatives from government and non-government organisations were involved in producing a report released early last year which offered a range of recommendations. One of the key recommendations was around the education of parents and carers – interestingly, the report highlighted the false security many people attribute to the fitting of window insect screens, which unless specifically designed to withstand the weight of an adult pushing on them, offer little to no protection from a fall.

While the Building Code of Australia includes safety measure for new buildings, many older buildings still have low window sills, wide opening windows and balcony balustrades that are low or have horizontal climbing elements that allow easy climbing. For concerned carers, there are many cost-effective types of locks and latches available to secure windows at a maximum and safe opening width of 10cm. There are also window guards, bars, shutters and durable mesh screens. For balconies, measures should be taken to ensure the balustrade cannot be climbed, is a minimum height of 1 metre and has maximum openings of 10cm.

For more information, visit the Kids Health website at http://kidshealth.schn.health.nsw.gov.au/

Posted by Chris Wilkins