Students help elderly homeowners install safety chains

Regina Lau

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Thirteen students from the Department of Manufacturing Engineering and Engineering Management (MEEM) at City University of Hong Kong have joined a voluntary project to help elderly homeowners install safety chains that can prevent windows from falling. The students embarked on the first installation on 18 November.


MEEM, pairing up with the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui Lok Man Alice Kwok Integrated Service Centre (the Centre), is providing the service to six elderly homeowners in the To Kwa Wan district in Kowloon.


CityU is dedicated to reaching out and serving the community through innovative applied research initiatives. The project also underscores CityU students’ care for the community.


Repeated incidents of falling aluminium windows over the past few months have caused much alarm and concern about safety and the danger of ageing or overloaded window frames.


Invited by the Housing Department of the HKSAR to tackle the problem, MEEM’s Chair Professor Michael Hung and Dr Ralph Ip, Associate Professor, invented a simple, inexpensive and quick-fix safety chain solution in early August this year.


The safety chain fixture has attracted keen interest. To date, MEEM has granted Buildings Department of the HKSAR a licence to use the chain design to promote safety for the public; the Housing Department has adopted the design in some of its housing estates; and the Centre has teamed up with MEEM in a partnership that reaches out to the elderly in To Kwa Wan.


“This is a great opportunity to transfer our applied research outputs to the community and motivate our students to serve the community,” said Dr Ip, the project co-ordinator.


To prepare the student volunteers, MEEM has organized training workshops on technical skills and safety awareness, while the Centre has run briefing sessions on the code of ethics for voluntary workers and communication skills with senior citizens.


During on-site installations, scheduled on 18 and 25 November, two to three students are assigned to one household and each team is supported by two MEEM technicians and a social worker from the Centre. Painstaking efforts are made to ensure safety during the installation process: safety belts are fastened to windows and heavy tools, such as drills, and safety nets are spread underneath windows to prevent small objects such as screws and clinch nuts from falling.


“I’m really happy I can make use of what I have learned at CityU to help the needy,” said Pang Kwok-kin, a Year 2 MEEM student who participated in the on-site installation at an elderly household on

Hung Wan Street
in To Kwa Wan on 18 November.


“And through this voluntary service I’ve learned how to make use of invaluable practical skills in a hands-on situation,” he said.


So Yuk-ling, a fellow student volunteer, said the project offered her the opportunity to spend time with elderly people and learn about the way they live. “This is certainly an enriching experience,” she said.


The elderly residents benefiting from the service were impressed by the enthusiasm and commitment of the CityU staff and students.


“I’ve been rather worried about those ageing aluminium windows after hearing about incidents of falling window frames in the neighborhood,” said Ms Wu Kwan-fong, a resident from

Hung Wan Street
in To Kwa Wan.  


Ms Wu said she was very grateful to CityU staff and students. “Without their help, I wouldn’t have been able to afford the installation,” she said.




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