Electricity is a part of daily life, yet it can be inherently dangerous. Electrical safety hazards are everywhere. The threat of electrical burns, shock, and electrocution accompanies cords, electronics, appliances, outlets, and light switches. Plus, water and electricity should never mix.
Precautions against electrical safety hazards are needed at home with children. Nothing goes further to prevent electrical accidents than education. Knowing how to be safe around electricity is critical.
Here’s how to help children stay safe around the five most significant home electrical safety hazards.
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The National Fire Protection Association states that electricity causes approximately 2400 children a year to be injured by electricity. Many injuries are caused by electrical safety hazards or when a naturally curious child sticks an object into an electrical outlet. The results can be burns or electrical shock.
Something inserted into an outlet completes a circuit. Then, current is drawn through the outlet and flows along the path the child is a part of, causing severe injury. Educating children should help to prevent this.
Installing tamper-proof outlets helps as they have interior shutters behind each slot for the plug. Both sides must be pressed simultaneously to insert it, so tamper-proof outlets prevent non-plug-shaped objects from being inserted and are required by the National Electrical Code. These outlets significantly reduce electrical safety hazards, as does covering exposed wires with outlet covers.
Besides outlets, electrical and extension cords are electrical safety hazards in most homes. Since most electric things have cords, and extension cords are convenient, take steps for safety. A child can hurt themselves with a cord in numerous ways, including:
- Tripping and falling
- Wrapping it around the neck
- Injury from damaged cords
- Objects into the end of the extension cord
- Pulling cords out of sockets
All hazards can be avoided with education and prevention. Cord shorteners or covers will prevent tangles, and sleeves are available to make cords rigid or prevent them from being wrapped around a neck or chewed on by little teeth. Additionally, unplugging extension cords prevents electrical shock if an object is inserted into the open end.
Unplugging and storing cords not in use is another smart preventative measure. You should still explain wrapping something around your neck or chewing on cords can cause injury that can easily be prevented.
Cords aren’t the only electrical dangers. Appliances create electrical safety hazards for children, so proper education is the best prevention. Electrical fires can result from any home appliance which is why you should incorporate safety air systems within your home. Warn children about things that have heating elements and about how mixing metal objects with electrical appliances is extremely dangerous.
Explain to children that appliances like toasters and air fryers can become extremely hot, so they should use caution and avoid getting burned. Also, explain that using a metal utensil to retrieve things from appliances is never a good idea and can give them a serious shock or burn.
Children should also understand never to put metal in a microwave, as it can cause an explosion that causes severe injury or may lead to a fire. Tell children not to use these appliances without a grown-up until you are confident that they will not have a serious accident.
Sometimes, children enjoy flipping the light switch on and off repeatedly. While this seems innocent, it can damage the light switch or the light and lead to overheating or damage, in turn, causing an injury. Be aware of the signs a light switch has become an electrical safety hazard.
Explain that light switches can break and damaged electrical wires can overheat in the wall behind a switch. If this happens, you should switch out the damaged light switch and may want to call a professional for an electrical inspection to be sure nothing else is a problem. Also, consider getting child-proof light switch covers if your little one can’t stop.
Remember to be careful when changing a lightbulb with children at home. You should teach children never to touch an empty light socket because you never know if it is switched on. If you need to change a bulb, make sure you know where a child is first, or if you can wait to do it, wait so the risk is avoided.
Adults know electricity and water do not mix, as even the slightest moisture on your hands can have fatal results. You should try never to have electric devices, your children, and a water source too close together.
Implementing GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) outlets in the kitchen, bathroom, or near any indoor water source is a critical tool to prevent injury and death.
As the National Electrical Code requires, these outlets break the circuit in a split-second, stopping the electrical flow. They are one of the best ways to avoid injury from electricity.
In addition to GFCI outlets and education, electrical safety hazards can be minimized with these preventative measures:
- Keep electrical cords away from sinks or faucets
- Don’t use the sink and an electrical appliance at the same time
- Assist kids with blowdryers
- Do not set drinks or other liquids on top of electronics or appliances
- Never swim during a thunderstorm
- Always dry hands thoroughly after washing
These will help prevent an accident caused by electricity and water getting too close together. If you need help installing one of these outlets, try contacting a local electrician.
Knowing the most significant electrical safety hazards for children will ensure their safety around electricity. For the moments when you cannot be with your child, teaching that electrical cords, outlets, switches, and appliances can be dangerous and that water and electricity are hazardous together helps prevent accidents.
Make electrical safety a priority anywhere children are regularly present. Teach how electricity works, how it is dangerous to people, and how to keep themselves safe in a way they understand.