Home Modifications That Will Ensure Safety for Parents with Disabilities
Parenting is the toughest job anyone can undertake. It requires equal parts devotion, patience, and wisdom, qualities that members of the disabled community possess in abundance. The skills needed to make one’s way through a differently enabled world have direct application to raising children. Of course, being a parent presents many challenges. One of these is overcoming the limitations posed by physical disabilities.
Accessibility and Child Safety
Making your home as accessible, and as safe, as possible takes on added importance when children come into the picture. It’s important to consider all the possible risks to your child, both the obvious and the less apparent. The National Safety Council and the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommend the following guidelines:● Keep small objects out of your child’s reach. Seemingly harmless items such as watch batteries, coins, and even cooking spices can become deadly in children’s hands. If you’re unable to reach high shelves, then consider installing locking cabinets or other safeguards.● Control access to areas of the home such as stairways, workshops, bathrooms, and kitchens by using safety gates or similar measures.● Install slip-resistant flooring such as cork, linoleum, or tile. Avoid stone, ceramic, or porcelain materials, which pose slip hazards. If new flooring is beyond your budget, then consider using rubber-backed anti-fatigue mats around sinks and cooking areas. Another option, suggested by DIY Network, is to apply anti-slip coatings to your existing floors.● Consider using offset hinges, also known as expandable hinges, for interior doorways. These can free up as much as two to three inches in a typical hallway, which is a boon for both rambunctious children and disabled adults.● Wheelchair-accessible cribs are available in a range of colors and styles. Whatever crib you use, never add blankets, toys, pillows, or other objects that can impair the child’s breathing.
Making Stairs Safer
Stair-related accidents cost up to $12 billion a year in medical bills and lost work time, according to the Los Angeles Times. Making stairways as safe as possible for children and adults is crucial for parenting preparation. Here are some ideas to keep in mind:● Adding ramps if feasible. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines specify a maximum of one inch of rise for each foot of ramp. ● Using rubber mats for each step to add extra slip resistance.● Using handrails. There are many options for making rails both attractive and easy to use.● Keeping stairs free of objects that can cause slipping or trip hazards.
Other Options to Consider
These ideas may require special equipment or the services of a remodeler. However, they’re worth considering as part of an overall home safety plan:● Using the ground floor as much as possible for sleeping, cooking, and other daily activities.● Installing closed-circuit television cameras to monitor activities inside and outside your home.● Replacing conventional bathtubs with walk-in models.
Financial or Other Assistance
Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for financial aid for some of these modifications. This is especially true if you’re buying a home, as you may qualify as a first-time homebuyer.
Possible sources include:● Federal, state, or city grants.● Aid from private foundations.● Home improvement loans from commercial lenders.
When applying for these programs, focus on the practical rather than the aesthetic advantages of the renovations. Also, be aware that the grantor may have stringent requirements for the choice of contractor. Review any offer of aid thoroughly before accepting.
It takes a big person to take on the job of parenting. Your willingness to assume this role says far more about your character and abilities that any physical challenge ever could.