Electricity and Kids – Let’s Keep Them Safe
Many people would say that the invention and use of electricity had the greatest impact on society in the 20th century. Think of all the things we use each day that depend on electricity.
While electricity is a very safe technology, we still have to follow safety precautions for its use, especially when there are children in the house. May is National Electrical Safety Month – a good time to take a look at electric safety in your home and make changes if necessary.
Ages and Stages
The age of children and their curiosity and stage of development will help decide what safety measures need to be taken. A newly mobile infant beginning to crawl may be able to access electric outlets. A curious toddler might be interested in sticking things in outlets just like the grown-ups do. An independent preschooler might want to turn things like appliances on and off. Older children may be ready to use electricity by themselves. Think about your child’s age and developmental stage, and consider these suggestions.
Tips for Babies and Toddlers
- Cover outlets that are not in use.
Some newer homes may be equipped with tamper resistant receptacles (TRIs). If not, there are a variety of outlet covers on the market. Choose a type that fits the curiosity of your child. If you put simple plastic covers in the outlets, some children will be content to leave those alone. Remember to check the size of outlet covers. Some are small enough to pose a choking hazard and should be avoided. More curious children may be able to pry the outlet covers off or try to unplug devices. You will need an outlet protector that snaps closed to prevent unplugging or covers the whole switch plate.
- Hide or cover all cords and computer cables. Babies have been known to chew on live cords.
- Secure dangling appliance cords like lamp cords so children don’t pull them down.
- Remember to cover the outlets on power strips or purchase power strip covers.
- Watch out for dangling phone or device charger cords that children can grab.
Tips for Older Kids
- Water and electricity don’t mix!
Small appliances in the bathroom such as hair dryers and curling irons should be unplugged and stored out of sight after use to avoid being dropped into a toilet or bathtub.
- Talk about electrical safety with your older children.
- Teach older children how to safely plug in and unplug electric devices.
Never touch the metal prong. Pull out the plug by gripping the plastic plug, not by pulling on the cord.
General Safety Tips
- Be sure your home is up to code with ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) receptacles installed on outside outlets and near any water source (bathroom, kitchen countertop, laundry room, etc.) These devices shut off an electric power circuit when it detects current flowing through an unintended path like water and reduce the risk of electric shock.
- Whenever you see an electrical issue—sparking outlets, hot switch plates, GFCIs that keep tripping, etc.—have a licensed electrician check them and repair them if necessary.
Now’s the time to double check electrical safety in your home. Then enjoy the wonder of electricity in our lives!