The Star has reported uncovered manholes as “virtual death traps in the streets of most Malaysian towns and cities” (the photo above is an example only). A four year old boy was the latest victim when he fell into an uncovered manhole in Pahang, Malaysia while walking with his mother. The Star stated that 10 deaths have been reported due to man hole falls since February 2009.
Works Minister Datuk Fadillah Yusof is aware of the problem and blames thieves for stealing the man hole covers and selling them as scrap metal. “The metal manhole covers are often stolen and most areas with such manholes fall under the jurisdiction of municipal councils. “This is why some municipal councils have switched to covers made of other materials which do not have the same resale value but with the same strength and functionality,” he told The Star.
The Johor Baru City Council (MBJB) has replaced all stolen metal gratings covering drains and manholes with composite slab drain covers since 2008. Mayor Datuk Abdul Rahman Mohd Dewam said “it was a right move, as the composite slab drain covers had no commercial value. We have also received positive feedback from ratepayers for making the change” he said. MBJB replaced the metal gratings with composite slab after the death of a pedestrian who fell into an uncovered manhole in February 2008.
What Can I Do to Keep My Child Safe?
- Teach your child about the dangers of walking over drains, grids and broken concrete at an early age. You can start as early as two years. Children learn through repetition, every time you go out; point out grids, open drains and closed drains and explain the dangers of walking on them or near them.
- Be careful even when walking on closed drains – teach your children to always walk around them.
- If your child is younger than three use a stroller or baby carrier when you are in unfamiliar territory to ensure that they don’t run into hazards.
- If your child is over three and likes to run, you can use a harness to keep them safe and by your side. You may be laughed at, but anyone who laughs has obviously not experienced a two year old speed to the top of an escalator, or open lift while at a mall. Or oncoming traffic while on the footpath. A harness will ensure your child’s safety and if you take your child shopping to pick one with a cute animal they may enjoy wearing it.
- Lead by example, if you walk over closed drains they will too. Make it a “family rule” to not walk over closed drains or around open ones.
- Walk your child’s daily route as a team and identify any hazards such as open drains, heavy traffic, large pools of stagnant water and vacated houses where there may be squatters. Explain the hazards to your child and what they need to do in order to avoid them.
- If your child walks in the early morning or dusk when there is low visibility ensure they have a flashlight and demonstrate how to use it to walk home safely. Check the flashlight is working, regularly. They may forget to tell you when the batteries go flat.
- If you see an open drain report it to your local municipal council immediately. By simply reporting the open drain, taking down the report number and the name of the person you report it to, you may prevent another person injuring themselves or dying in a preventable fatal accident.
Take care and never step on drain grids or near open drains.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Itdp.
Maree has over five years of experience in Occupational Health and Safety and in the development of safety standards, training workshops and improvement initiatives. She is passionate about health, safety and education. Maree, a mother of two children, has a Advanced Diploma in OHS and will be graduating soon with a B.Sc. (HSE) from Australia.