For Parents or Caregivers with a Disability & Safety Considerations
For Parents or Caregivers with Disability
In the U.S., there are at least four million parents with significant disability who are raising children under the age of 18. This includes parents who have one or a combination of a physical, sensory, intellectual, or psychiatric disability or chronic illness.
Inclusive playgrounds should be designed not only with children with disability in mind, but also their parents and caregivers, who may also face barriers to access and use. Parents or caregivers with a disability may not be able to provide assistance or supervision to children playing if the playground has accessibility barriers, which can lead to an increased risk for falls and injuries.
Fun at a playground may be interrupted by an injury or accident. Some accidents can be prevented with proper adult supervision. Parents can make the playground safer by checking the equipment and playground area for potential hazards. One parental responsibility is to educate children on how to play safely without interfering with the spirit of free play. Here are other safety considerations:
- Before visiting a playground, check to make sure play areas are designed to allow an adult to supervise children while they are playing. For parents with disability, check that the playground is inclusive prior to bringing children there.
- Inspect playground surfaces for softness. The surfaces under playground equipment should be both soft and thick enough to lessen and absorb the impact of falls.
- The playground should be free of rocks, tree stumps and roots, water, and other trip hazards, as well as foreign items such as broken glass or loose metal that may cause potential injury.
- Look for playgrounds that are designed for different age groups: infants and toddlers under two, two-to-five-year-olds (preschoolers), and five-to-12-year-olds (school-age). Make sure that children are playing in their designated age areas.
- Look for safety features such as guardrails and protective barriers around elevated surfaces.
- Swings, seesaws, and other equipment with moving parts should be located in an area separate from the rest of the playground. Look for safety features such as guardrails and protective barriers around elevated surfaces. Ensure they are not at risk of trapping a child’s head, arm, or other body part.
- Assess the playground for signs of poor maintenance. If the playground is not well-maintained, avoid it. Contact the appropriate authority (e.g., city, school, parks/rec department, etc.) and request maintenance.
- Inspect structures for signs of weakness or weakening (especially wooden elements).
- If a piece of equipment, other structure, or any of their components seem broken, loose, or in need of other maintenance, designate as off limits immediately and report the problem to the appropriate authority.
- Do not use the playground if equipment and structures are wet or too hot to the touch. Make sure to wear sunscreen and reapply when necessary. Make sure that lotions and sunscreens do not interfere with a child’s ability to grip things such as handles, guardrails, and monkey bars.