Important Information to Know During Our Campus Transformation — Read More

Physical Disabilities

For children with physical disabilities, we recommend adhering to childproofing recommendations for the able-bodied child. Some additional safety precautions might need to be in place for fall prevention and emergency preparedness.

Fall Safety

  • Install secure handrails and grab bars in bathrooms and stairways.
  • Place non-slip strips on the tub’s surface.
  • Remove area rugs.
  • Secure safety gates at the top and bottom of every staircase.
  • Install window guards to prevent windows from opening more than 4 inches.
  • Use coilers in place of shoe laces to prevent tripping.
  • Always supervise your child.
  • Consult with your therapist about the need for a shower/tub bench.

Burn/Fire Safety

  • 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.
  • 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 Safety

  • Some children with physical impairments require adaptive seating, feeding implementsand techniques.  Please consult your occupational therapist for your child’s specific needs.
  • 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.
  • Test small objects by using an empty toilet paper tube or small object tester. If object slides through it is a potential choking hazard.
  • Secure and support your child in an upright position when eating or being fed.
  • 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.

Poisoning Safety

  • 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.
  • 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.

Pedestrian Safety

  • Mark wheelchairs with reflective tape or lighting and add a bike flag for greater visibility.
  • Teach your child safe behaviors in traffic; set clear limits and enforce rules.
  • Work with your community to install sloped curbs, signs or audible devices.

    To link up with your community, visit Safe Routes to School on Facebook. 
    Click here.

Playground Safety

  • Avoid playgrounds with asphalt, concrete, grass, dirt and soil surfaces under the equipment.
  • 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.
  • Look for ways you can help your child enjoy the equipment.For information on special needs playground equipment, visit Shanes Inspiration. Click here.

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.
  • Take adaptive aquatics classes together as a family to learn swim skills and reinforce general water safety principles.
  • Install grab bars in the bathtub.
  • When using bath seats, do not leave your child alone.
  • Consult your occupational therapist for recommendations.

Car Seats

Children with physical disabilities will require special seating, even in a vehicle. Please refer to our section on child passenger safety for children with long-term needs.

Consult with your child’s physical therapist to determine the best seat for your child’s ability. For information on Rady Children’s Child Passenger Safety, click here.

Emergencies & Disaster Safety

  • Contact your fire department to notify them your child has special needs and if there is any oxygen or special equipment in use.
  • 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.
  • For children that cannot communicate verbally keep a whistle or alarm near your child’s bed to alert others to danger.
  • Keep a blanket or scooter board near child’s bed to drag him/her to safety.
  • Consider a guide dog.
  • Complete an Emergency Information form for each family member with special needs.

For more information on home safety for children with special needs, visit

Childproofing alone cannot prevent your child from getting into a dangerous situation. It does not replace ADULT SUPERVISION. Consider multiple layers of protection.