Playground Safety For Your Child With Special Needs

Supervision at all times

  • Actively supervise your child.
  • Remove strings on clothing that could be a choking hazard.
  • Match your child with a playmate. Check with your Boys and Girls Club, ARC chapter, United Way, church, school, YMCA, Campfire or other community groups. Find out about buddy programs, Special Sitters, or find interested young adults.


Play on appropriate equipment that matches your child’s stage of development

Playground equipment is designed for different abilities and developmental levels. Look for playgrounds with separate equipment for younger children (ages 2 -5) and school-age children (ages 5-12).

  • Talk with your child’s caregivers about how to safely challenge your child to play to their potential.
  • Talk with your child about safety and teach your child how to safely use playground equipment.
  • Look for areas where your child can slide, scoot or crawl on their own.
  • Bring sand toys, trucks and other playthings that your child enjoys.

Check surfaces

Over 70% of all playground injuries are related to falls. Avoid playgrounds with surfaces of concrete, asphalt, and grass, blacktop, packed dirt or rocks. Good surfaces should have wood chips, mulch, sand, pea gravel or rubber mats.

  • Be sure loose-fill surfacing is 12 inches deep.
  • Be prepared for emergencies and carry a first aid kit.

Check playground equipment

Check to make sure the equipment is anchored safely in the ground and all equipment is in good working order.

  • Check for sharp points or edges in equipment.
  • Make sure elevated surfaces, like platforms or ramps, have guardrails.
  • Look for broken or missing parts.

Is a playground ready and safe for my child?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that playgrounds be accessible. The guidelines below will help you figure out if a playground is accessible to your child and what to do if it isn’t.  ADA guidelines require that:

  • Children in wheelchairs can move around on the playground surface or path to the play area.
  • There are transfer ramps with wheel stops and guardrails for children to get on to higher equipment.
  • There is separate equipment for all developmental levels.
  • The playground equipment and surface are maintained.
  • There is space for adults to help children play on the equipment.
  • All openings on elevated play platforms are limited in width.
  • There are hands-on areas for children sitting in wheelchairs.

Looking to share this information in another language?

We have translated this information as handouts in Spanish and Russian.

Contact Us

Send us an email and we'll get right back to you.