Cognitive Disabilities

Children with Cognitive developmental delays or learning disabilities do not reach developmental milestones at the same time as other children their age. They may not develop safety awareness at the same time as other children of the same age; therefore children might need childproofing of their home for a longer period of time.

Fall Safety

  • To avoid tip-overs secure and anchor furniture, bookshelves and TV’s to the wall
  • Keep electronic cords secured in a cord keeper or other device.
  • Use a bed safety rail and avoid bunk beds
  • Secure safety gates at the top and bottom of every staircase
  • Keep furniture and objects that can be used for climbing away from windows
  • Install window guards to prevent window opening more than 4”

Burn/Fire

  • Reduce water heater temperature to 110 degrees or lower.
  • Install childproof outlets or outlet covers to prevent electric burns.
  • Store matches and lighters out of children’s reach.
  • Use stove knob covers or a stove guard to prevent children from turning on the burners and an oven lock to prevent opening the oven door.
  •  Use tape to specify a no child zone near the store and oven.
  • Always turn pot handles toward the back of the stove to prevent children from pulling down a hot pan onto them.
  • Remove tablecloths and runners and place hot food in center of table.
  • Install smoke alarms with a strobe light for hearing impaired children.
  • Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home and change batteries when you adjust your clock every spring and fall.

Choking

  • Avoid giving children small round foods such as hot dogs, cheese sticks/chunks, hard candy, nuts, grapes and popcorn.  Check with your pediatrician about your child’s particular needs.
  • Children should be taught to eat at a table, not when walking or playing.
  • Secure and support your child in an upright position when eating or being fed.
  • Test small objects by using an empty toilet paper tube or small object tester.  If object slides through it is a potential choking hazard, especially for children under age 3. Children with developmental delays might need this longer.
  • Always follow age recommendations/developmental ability on toys and other products.
  • Keep small items, toys and toy parts away from young children and older children who continue mouthing objects.
  • Avoid latex balloons use only Mylar balloons. Never leave bags, such as dry cleaning bags in reach of children.
  • Cover all band aids with clothing to avoid biting or chewing on pieces.
  • Learn Child CPR and stay CPR certified.*Children might not be able to play with toys at their age limit.  We recommend adhering to purchasing toys for 3 years of age and younger until the child stops putting everything in their mouth.  Consult your child’s physical therapist about appropriate developmental toys.

Poisoning

  • Store medicines and toxic household products out of sight and reach.
  • Keep all chemicals and medicines in original containers.  Many resemble juices and candies.
  • Install locks on cabinets and drawers, making sure you choose ones that work to keep your child out of harm’s way.
  • Give medications in proper doses for age and weight of the child.
  • Avoid taking any medications in front of your children.
  • Put up visual reminders such as stickers on dangerous and poisonous household items.
  • Remind your child regularly about avoiding these items, using stories or pictures to ensure that they understand.
  • Keep a list of your child’s medical conditions and medications/doses your child takes.
  • Post the poison control center number by every phone: 1-800-222-1222.

    *Please note children with cognitive developmental delays might not understand the warning signs of poisons.

Pedestrian Safety

  • Teach your child safe behaviors in traffic; set clear limits and enforce rules.
  • A child with learning impairments may have delayed processing to dangers such as an oncoming vehicle.
  • Always hold your child’s hand while walking to avoid darting into traffic.

Playground Safety

  • Remove hood and neck drawstrings from children’s clothing, necklaces and don’t let kids wear helmets on the playground as the strap can pose a strangling hazard.
  • Encourage your child to use developmentally appropriate equipment.
  • Look for ways you can help your child enjoy the equipment.
  • Actively supervise your child, by being in arms reach and keeping your attention on them at all times.

Water Safety

  • Find the right life jacket for your child’s needs; this may include choosing an adaptive life jacket or a standard Type I or Type II life jacket.
  • Always keep children within arm’s reach while in or near the water, this includes bathtubs, toilets, hot tubs, pools and open water.  Adult supervision is a must at all times.
  • Keep your toilet lid locked with a child safety lock.
  • Always empty water from bathtub and buckets, wading pools after each usage.
  • It is a law children 12 and under must wear a life jacket when on a dock, pier or boat.
  • Install a five-foot fence locking fence around a swimming pool or hot tub.
  • Take Adaptive Aquatics Classes together as a family to learn swim skills and reinforce general water safety principles.

    *Children may have delayed water safety skills so a 3 year and older aquatics class may take a little longer to learn.

Car Seats

A child with developmental delays such as Down syndrome might also have increased joint laxity, especially in the neck.  For added protection this will require them to remain in a rear facing car seat for as long as possible and stay in a 5 point harness until the highest weight limit. For children who are impulsive or cannot follow safety instructions, they may require a 5 point harness or safety vest while riding in a vehicle until they can sit safely using a seat belt.

Emergencies & Disaster Safety

  • Contact your fire department to notify them your child has special needs.
  • Consider a medical alert device for your child; such as a Medic Alert bracelet.
  • Create a bag with flash lights, emergency numbers, communication device, extra batteries, first aid items, water, food and backup prescription medications.
  • Create and practice an escape plan for your family including techniques that include feeling along the wall to get to safety.
  • Practice fire safety messages in sign language.
  • For children that cannot communicate verbally keep a whistle or alarm near your child’s bed to alert others to danger.
  • If clothes do catch fire, “Stop, Drop, Roll” by dropping immediately to the ground. Ensure children are familiar with this tip.
  • Consider a buddy system
  • Complete an Emergency Information Form for each family member with special needs.