Electrical Safety Tips to Keep in Mind
with Young Kids at Home During this Coronavirus’ Crisis
As schools and childcare centers are closing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), kids of all ages will be home for longer periods of time. Young children ages 1-6 have lots of energy and are full of curiosity, but sometimes we find them getting into things they shouldn’t.
Whether you’re a parent working from home or a family member, friend or neighbor helping with childcare, here are some electrical safety tips to keep young kids out of harm’s way in your home, both inside and out.
Keep in mind, every day, nearly seven children are treated in hospital emergency rooms for electrical shock or burn injuries caused by tampering with a wall outlet – 70 percent of which occur right at home when adult supervision is present.
As every parent knows, kids are curious by nature and they enjoy exploring the world around them and being independent. This curiosity is vital for a kid’s development but sometimes; it can be difficult to keep them away from things that should not be played with.
With young kids around the house even more often during these trying times, we need to be more observant of safety around electricity.
At J&A South Park, we want to make sure that your kids are safe around anything and everything electric. To ensure electrical safety in your home, we ask that you please follow these safety tips.
Cover all electrical outlets.
For some unknown reason, kids can’t resist the urge to stick their fingers into unsafe electrical outlets. Other than this, they also delight in plugging forks and other metal objects into these sockets. Needless to say, this curiosity can pose a huge safety risk for your children.
Your kids can be protected now by using a precautionary device known as an outlet cover. They can be pushed into every socket of your house in the same manner as you would use your plugs for appliances. You can also get an electrician to install these all over your house in places where children and pets can reach easily.
These covers are inexpensive and easy to use – just push them into the socket the same way you would a plug. They’re designed to be too close-fitting for little hands to remove, but adults are able to pull them out easily when they need to use the socket. Yes, it’s that simple.
As for outlets located near water sources, double-check that they contain ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) which are designed to prevent electrical shocks. If the GFCI detects a short circuit is developing, it stops the flow of electricity before anyone is seriously injured.
While you’re at it, you should never have electrical cords run under rugs or baseboards, since they can overheat and cause fires. Instead, run them around the perimeter of the wall – this will remove tripping hazards. Another option is calling an electrician to install a new outlet that better fits your needs.
Make it difficult for kids to pull out cords.
As just mentioned, kids tend to get nosy around dangerous electrical hazards. They also have a natural curiosity for electrical cords. It will take only a moment for your child to grab these dangerous wires and pull them out to the exposed socket.
J&A South Park electricians have a simple remedy for this threat, too. We recommend that you carefully plan where you employ your game systems, audio equipment or TV sets, even if it’s hard to do so. Would you rather risk your child’s safety?
Another way of ensuring their safety can be to ask J&A South Park electricians about cord hiding devices. These fixtures can keep the loose cords packed and out of the grasp of any mischief-makers and keep them out of harm’s way.
Also, be aware of trailing cords. If you look around, you might notice appliances with trailing cords. To be safer, wrap the excess cord around your palm, then hold the gathered cord and secure it with a tie or duct tape.
Never yank plugs out by the cords.
It’s easy to grab a cord and give it a yank in an attempt to unplug it. Most of us know already that pulling cords like this will damage them, but did you know that this behavior is also extremely dangerous?
Damaged cords can expose electrical components, creating both a shock and a fire hazard. Teach your kids to unplug cords directly from the outlet – not by tugging on the cord. You’ll spare your electrical devices while preventing hazardous situations.
Keep your appliances stable
While appliances and electricity are essential for our homes and our lifestyle, there are fundamental things that parents need to know to avoid help accidents and protect kids from high-risk hazards.
Unfortunately, keeping appliances out of the reach of kids isn’t always a practical solution. Lamps, TVs and similar appliances are always kept at heights that are easily accessible for children. These become a risk as they can get knocked over or fall onto a youngster.
To better protect your kids from such risks, make sure these appliances are kept stable. You should make sure they can’t be pulled down or pushed over.
For things like a game system, stash them and the cord on a shelf out of kiddie reach. Also, keep bathroom and kitchen appliances such as hair dryers, electric razors and toasters in high cupboards until needed.
For large appliances such as washing machines, clothes dryers, and dishwashers that are often left to run for longer periods of time without supervision, these may pose a potential risk for youngsters who may want to play in or around them. Ensure that these appliances only run when you’re around to keep an eye on things and consider blocking off these areas from the very young.
Water and electricity: A deadly combination
Right from an early age, children must be told that water and electricity do not mix.
Children must learn that they must NEVER:
- Touch electrical appliances when wet.
- Jump out of the wading pool without drying themselves and go in the house near switches, sockets and other electrical devices.
- Go to a games console soon after a bath until completely dried.
- Keep liquids and drinks near stereos, TVs, computers and other electrical equipment.
In our tech-centered world, most kids typically have a cell phone, tablet or portable video game system keeping them busy. When it comes to bath time, make sure a child never brings any of these electronic devices into the bath with them.
For parents with younger kids, when giving them a bath, it can definitely get messy. When the splashing starts, water begins to fly and if it hits an electronic device, it can be dangerous. Even appliances and devices that are turned off or unplugged can still cause electrical shocks if contact with water is made.
Be aware of power lines
As the weather improves, no doubt kids will spend more time outdoors, even if they maintain social distancing.
High-voltage power lines are an absolute no-no for kids!
Power lines are treacherous and must always be assumed to be energized and uninsulated even if this is not the case since getting in close proximity of one could result in a fatal electric shock.
Parents must teach their kids the following:
- Climbing trees that are too close to power lines is dangerous.
- Never play in the vicinity of a sub-station and never enter one. If a pet has gone into the area, do not try to get it yourself. Have an adult call the power company.
- Electric poles should never be climbed.
- Never throw objects, such as sneakers, at or onto power lines.
- Remote-controlled airplanes, kites, and other flying toys must be flown in open spaces such as meadows, fields, and parks. Be sure to keep them far away from power lines.
- If it should ever happen where toy planes or kites get tangled in a power line, have an adult call the power company. Never try to remove the item yourself.
Don’t forget the garden
Spring is near. However, if you think gardens are safe for your kids from the electrical hazards point of view, think again. Keep your kids away from electrical appliances in and around the garden, such as electric lawn mowers or edge-trimmers. Never leave kids unattended around such appliances. Gardens should be where they play and have fun. Not an unsecured place. Store your garden equipment away and unplug them while not in use.
Be aware of all potential dangers
Potential dangers consist of the following:
- Flickering lights
- Burning smells or sparking outlets around your home
- Sockets that give off a buzzing sound when you plug something into them
- Damaged or frayed power cords
- Plugs that don’t easily fit into sockets
If you see any signs of electrical problems, give the electricians at J&A South Park a call.
Educate your kids
During a coronavirus “stay in place” or otherwise, as soon as kids grow old enough to understand simple instructions, you need to have a sit-down with them and teach them about electrical hazards. Kids learn super rapidly and they’re more likely to internalize information when it starts early in life. All the above and other resources besides this blog can be shared with them in a fun manner.
- Use visual aids. We’d avoid demonstrations but clearly identifying potential electrical risks within the home and explaining in detail how these things work can go a long way towards safety.
- Openly communicate. Try to aim for more of a discussion than a lesson. Open communication makes the topic more interesting for your kids and increases the chances of such information being retained. And always encourage questions.
- Make it interesting. Wrestling with a kid’s attention can be taxing. So how do you keep a focus and interest up?
- Make it fun. There are endless resources about electrical safety for kids: kits, tools, videos, and activities are all available online. Take advantage of the technology and arm yourself with the best the web has to offer. These fun ways will help you to make your point understandable to your kids more easily.
The phrase “in one ear and out the other” has some merit, especially for kiddos. They are learning and growing so quickly that it can be difficult to really let the information sink in, so don’t make your lessons on safety a one-time thing.
Once they’ve been taught about these hazards, all you need do is stay vigilant. Take a minute or so of your routine every day to inspect cords, appliances, and outlets. By doing so, these everyday necessities can be used in a hazard-free manner. After all, better to be safe than sorry.
Don’t forget about recognizing danger signs.
Verify that kids know to get help from an adult in a hazardous electrical situation and add an electrician’s number to your list of important phone numbers on the fridge.
- Determine if your fire/smoke alarms are up-to-date in case an electrical appliance triggers fire and teach your kids what to do in the event an alarm goes off.
- Ensure kids know what precautions to take if faced with an electrical emergency such as a spark or if they smell something odd in the home.
- Teach kids to recognize public signs that indicate electrical danger, like “Danger-High Voltage.” Typically, such signs are branded with a lightning bolt.
The key to electrical safety in the home is to make sure your kids are well informed about the hazards of electrical items. By making a few adjustments to the way you manage electricity in your home as well as teaching kids how to interact with cords, outlets, and appliances, you can transform any house into a safer place for children.