Why children love electrical outlets is one of the great mysteries of the world, but it is also undeniable fact. If there is something in their hands that looks like it will fit in an outlet, then they try to get it in there. It’s almost as if there is a voice in their head calling for all plug-ins to be tampered with.
Unfortunately, the risk of shock is very real when it comes to outlets and children. Sometimes, nothing happens, and the child has luck on his or her side. However, electrocution can cause severe burns and death. Therefore, it is important to baby proof outlets and cords in the home to minimize this risk and prevent harm from coming to your child.
8 Ways to Babyproof Electrical Cords and Outlets
1. Electrical caps:
This is the bare minimum in babyproofing electrical outlets in the home. They are in no way a guarantee that a small child will not be curious enough to get through it, but it will at least buy you some time. Electrical caps should fit snugly, so tiny fingers have difficulty removing them. Still, this is the bare minimum. There are better options that provide more safety while making it easier for adults to access the outlet.
2. Self-closing outlet covers:
These covers actually slide shut. This means that an adult must slide the cover over in order to access the outlet. It is very easy if you know how it works, but it may outsmart young children. Again, this is not a guarantee, but it is a step up above electrical caps.
3. Tamper-resistant electrical receptacles:
This is the top-of-the-line in outlet protection, and tamper-resistant electrical receptacles are much more likely to protect children from outlet accidents than electrical caps. One study found that all 2-4-year-old subjects were able to remove electrical caps within 10 seconds. While this may not be the case with all electrical caps, it is cause for concern.
Tamper-resistant electrical receptacles are now required by the National Electric Code on new and remodeled homes. These outlets have spring-loaded shutters that open only when a plug is inserted into both sides of the outlet. They are not expensive, and they are an excellent safety mechanism in the home.
4. GFCI outlets:
Horror movies have often included scenes where someone dies from electrical shock because they drop the hair dryer in the bathtub, and it is true that people have died in this fashion. However, now GFCI outlets detect the interruption in current and remove the power source, so people don’t get electrocuted. GFCI outlets should be installed in all areas near water sources.
5. Power strip covers:
Power strips can be tedious when there are children in the home. Not only is there the risk of electric shock, but children tend to be button-pushers and cord pullers. This is not only annoying, it is a risk to children and electrical appliances in that cords can be choking hazards and electrical devices are not properly shut down.
All of this can be fixed with power strip covers, which prevent button-pushing, cord pulling, and electrical shock.
6. Shorten cords:
Electrical cord shorteners wind up extra cord to remove tripping and strangulation hazards. They are also convenient tools to remove the bulk of wandering cords behind devices like computers and televisions.
7. Cord covers:
Cord covers or concealers are good for babyproofing homes because they eliminate access to electrical cords by covering them up. This removes tripping hazards and removes the potential for cords to be worn, which can increase the risk of electrical shock. Cord covers also remove some of the temptation. Out of sight, out of mind, and children who don’t notice electrical components are less likely to tamper with them.
8. Plug locks:
Possibly an extreme in babyproofing is the plug lock, which actually puts the plug under lock and key. There are multiple types of plug locks, some of which attack to the outlet and some which attach directly to the plug.
This method may be extreme in babyproofing because typically, a cord can be removed from the access of a child. When this is not the case, plug locks are a good solution.
Out of the 5,500 emergency room patients presenting with injuries from electrical outlets in 2015, about 1,500 of them were under the age of five. In that year, there are no recorded deaths from electrical outlets, but that is not to say that there is not the potential for death.
Parents need not walk on eggshells thinking their child may be harmed from their electrical outlets if certain simple steps are taken to reduce risk. Young children are not logical creatures, and they will not be deterred by a simple explanation of the pain or the risk of electrical shock if they tamper with outlets. That is why it is so important to protect kids from electrocution by babyproofing your home.