If you have young children, you know how dangerous their curiosity can be. While kids generally don’t mean to harm themselves, your home, or anybody else, their actions may have consequences that they simply aren’t aware of. This is particularly the case when it comes to your electrical system. Unfortunately, an all-too-large number of children are hospitalized with serious injuries due to accidents with a home’s electrical system. From putting improper things into electrical sockets to accidentally touching damaged electrical equipment, there are plenty of ways children can be hurt, and that means it’s important to childproof your electrical system as much as possible.
Here are four different things you can do to dramatically improve electrical safety and prevent young children from having an electrical accident in your home.
Install Childproof Outlets
Perhaps the most common way children hurt themselves with electrical systems is by sticking something that doesn’t belong in an electrical outlet. The idea that you can plug something into those holes in the wall and suddenly make it come to life is certainly an understandable source of curiosity. However, what children don’t realize is that it only takes a few milliamps of current at 120 volts (the standard voltage in an average wall socket) to cause severe injury or even death, and this is particularly true for young children. Thus, it’s important to keep anything that doesn’t belong in a wall socket out.
Childproof outlets are becoming more and more common, and in fact, they are now widely available for just a few dollars each at your local home improvement warehouse, hardware store, or electrical supply. These outlets have a plastic cover that folds into place when an outlet is empty, preventing anything like a paperclip, butterknife, or another metal object from being shoved inside. The covers easily fold open once again, however, when you go to plug something in. Installing these outlets is as easy as installing any other outlet, and the low cost makes them one of the easiest and most effective methods of childproofing your electrical system. We strongly recommend installing these outlets on any receptacle
Add GFCIs to Needed Outlets
If you live in an older home, there’s a good chance you may not have a ground fault circuit interrupter (or GFCI for short) in all of the areas where it is recommended that you do. GFCIs are important safety mechanisms that detect unexpected ground faults in electrical circuits and shut off power to those outlets almost instantly to minimize exposure to electrical current. Whereas a circuit breaker will shut off when current levels reach 15, 20, or whatever amperage the breaker is rated for, that kind of current at 120 volts could easily be fatal to even the most robust and well-suited adult, much less a young child. GFCIs are designed to shut off at much lower current levels if they detect a sudden, unexpected “spike” in a circuit, often indicative of an unexpected ground fault.
As a general rule of thumb, you should have one of these safety devices installed on every electrical circuit that has at least one receptacle in an area where you can expect water to be present. That means placing them in bathrooms, kitchens, and any outdoor electrical outlets primarily. However, it also isn’t a bad idea to put a GFCI in your garage, utility room, or any other area where water might be present.
Never Leave Things Plugged Into Easily-Reachable Outlets
One of the reasons electrical equipment is so dangerous for young children is that so much of it is located low to the ground, putting it easily within reach of children who can crawl or barely walk. Outlets are frequently located roughly a foot off the ground, and some outlets are placed in the ground itself. While this is great for convenience, it isn’t great for safety. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you don’t leave anything plugged in at a height that young children can easily reach. This could be absolutely anything: a vacuum cleaner, a cell phone charger, a lamp, or even a television. The reason being is because a child might partially pull the plug out of the socket and then touch the exposed metal that may still have current flowing through it.
While it’s not practical to stop plugging things into lower outlets, always be certain that you keep an eye on anything plugged in at a lower height. Never leave anything there for a long period of time, particularly if young children are around, and always be sure to unplug anything that isn’t in use.
Run Wires Inside Walls
Finally, one of the best ways to prevent children from accidentally shocking themselves is to simply keep wires and other things they can grab onto out of their reach. However, sometimes you don’t have to put things out of reach up high if you can put them out of reach by putting them within your walls. Running permanent wires inside your walls to some of your most important devices or locations can help you not only keep your home safer, but keep these important cables and components away from young children who can hurt themselves with them.
Whether you’re looking to replace your outlets or repair a major fault, call the team at Roby Services at (704) 753-7754 to get help with your electrical service needs.