Electrical Safety: Your Best Bets for Baby-Proofing Outlets


For all of their unpredictability, babies tend to agree on at least one thing: electrical outlets sure are tempting! Though the crawling and toddling stages mean less reliance on Mom and greater opportunity for discovery, they also mean increased danger. Electrical outlets are not only positioned at Baby’s eye-level, but their inadvertent smiley-face design seems to encourage Baby’s touch. The slots of an outlet are perfect receptacles for all sorts of objects—coins, keys, buttons, paper clips, forks, and anything else within Baby’s reach. And why shouldn’t Baby give the challenge a try? She has a colorful shape sorter in her toy bin that operates on a very similar idea.

The National Fire Protection Association reports that shocks and burns from electrical outlets harm about 2400 children per year, and of that number, 12 children die from the injuries they sustain. You want to do everything you can to ensure that your child does not become one of these statistics. While you know that covering your outlets is common sense, do you know that the type of outlets you have affects the type of safety mechanism you should use?

Behind each one of your outlet covers is a receptacle to which the electrical wires are attached. There are two kinds of receptacles—regular and tamper-resistant. If your house was built more than seven or eight years ago, you will find mostly regular electrical receptacles. The slots are open, ready to receive the prongs of a plug or a foreign object that Baby has found during her crawling expeditions. Clearly, this type of outlet needs baby-proofing. On the other hand, if your house is a newer construction, you might have receptacles with slots that appear blocked with plastic, called tamper resistant receptacles, or TRRs. What you see are actually shutters that keep the openings sealed shut, until you attempt to insert a plug and press both shutters at the same time. In this case, the springs respond accordingly and the shutters open. It would be nearly impossible for a young child to coordinate pushing both shutters at once, so if you have these TRRs per the current National Electrical Code, you do not have to baby-proof these outlets.
Another feature of your outlets to determine is whether they are standard or Decora style. The standard uses a screw between the two outlets, while the Decora snaps over the outlets. If your outlet is a ground-fault circuit interrupter, you should treat it as a Decora. Figuring out which style is crucial to purchasing a safety product that fits correctly. At this point, you face a decision about which safety method to use.

Electical Outlet Caps - Electrician Tacoma WashingtonElectrical outlet caps are inexpensive and readily available. You can buy them in packages. They are plastic with flat white tops and two prongs that slip into the outlet slots. Understated and small, these caps will not draw attention when guests visit. Because the flat tops nestle so tightly against the outlet, anybody who tries to pry them away—adults included!—encounters a fair amount of difficulty. Baby’s chubby and uncoordinated fingers will definitely fumble in trying to pull out these caps, and eventually Baby will give up the fight. Don’t forget, though, that when you remove these caps to plug in a lamp or Dirt Devil, you will need to place them out of Baby’s reach as well as remember to return them to their rightful spots afterward. If you prefer a more user-friendly type of electrical outlet cap, consider press fit outlet plugs. These plugs, such as the kind made by Safety 1st, are easier to pull away from the outlet and are also compatible with GFCIs. They might cost you a touch more, but the convenience they offer is probably worth it.

electrical-outlet-safe-plate-tacoma-waElectrical outlet covers, or safe plates, are another baby-proofing option. You can unscrew the covers that are on your outlets and attach these plates in their place. Somewhat like the TRRs, these provide spring-loaded covers that adjust to accommodate the prongs of a plug and reposition themselves upon the removal of the plug. You can let your outlets be after installation. No fiddling with electrical wires is required, either.

electical-safe-cover-tacoma-waSo, let’s return to some statistics. Electrical outlets are not the only potentially devastating aspects of a family home. According to www.healthofchildren.com, in children aged 12 years and younger, household appliance electrical cords and extension cords cause more than 63% of injuries. Rare is the homeowner who consistently plugs in and unplugs power cords out of precaution. So how do you distract Baby from those cords, especially the alluring jungle of them near the t.v. and computer? The most straightforward solution is to use large pieces of furniture to block these areas. But if you are looking for an answer on a smaller scale, and cost is not prohibitive, try outlet covers that fit over the outlets when the cords are plugged in. LectraLock sells a clear cover that allows you to see which cords are plugged in where, and it works with both standard and Decora style outlets. Cheaper options are available as well, even though they are less…well, attractive. But if you harbor no qualms about a budget cord and outlet cover cramping your décor, and you have all standard outlets, then enjoy saving a few dollars and ensuring your child’s well-being.

With ongoing advances in baby gear easing parents’ anxiety more successfully every year, you can count on more options for electrical outlet safety emerging in the near future. Until someone invents a one-size-fits-all super-product, however, you can select the caps and covers that suit your home, and feel assured of your baby’s security as she explores the world.

We hope you found this useful and for all your electrical needs no matter how large or small call A Great Break Electric in Tacoma Washington today.

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