Preventing Electric Shock Injuries
Babyproofing your home is about a lot more than just covering sharp edges and putting up some baby gates. One of the most important parts of babyproofing your home is putting protections in place that prevent your child from suffering an electrical shock or being injured by other electrical hazards.
Electrical components that need to be babyproofed include:
- Power outlets
- Power cords
- Power strips
- Lighting fixtures
- Electrical devices
The task of babyproofing your home can be very overwhelming. But, it doesn't have to be. We recommend taking it room by room. Make a list of all the electrical hazards, organizing it by room. This will help you plan out what babyproofing devices and covers you need to buy. Once you have purchased everything you need, organize it all based on your original room-based list. This allows you to approach the actual process of installing everything in an easy-to-follow way.
When you are ready to install your babyproofing products, we recommend starting with the nursery and the rooms where your baby spends the most time. From there, you can go on to the rest of the house. Cross each room off your list as you complete it so that if you aren't able to do everything in one day, you know where you left off.
Keep reading for tips on how to approach each electrical hazard when babyproofing.
Electrical outlets are some of the most dangerous electrical hazards for babies and toddlers. They are usually low to the ground and easily accessible to small children. Furthermore, their holes are incredibly tempting for children to stick things in, from small fingers to bobby pins to silverware. If a child sticks something in the electrical socket, they risk serious electrical shock. It is paramount that you make sure outlets aren't available for children to play with.
Ways to babyproof electrical outlets include:
- Installing tamper-resistant receptacles
- Placing child-resistant outlet covers over receptacles
- Inserting electrical outlet caps
Many parents choose to install multiple methods of outlet protection, especially if they are concerned that an older child can circumvent more basic childproofing methods, like outlet caps. Most of these can be purchased fairly inexpensively from your local hardware store or online. If you plan to replace your outlets with tamper-resistant ones, we recommend working with our electricians to ensure that they are installed safely and correctly.
If you have any exposed electrical outlets in your home, you should work with an electrician to repair them. In the interim, we recommend you keep them covered and restrict your child's ability to access them.
Power cords and extension cords can be difficult to deal with when it comes to babyproofing. Not only do they pose a hazard for children and babies who like to put things in their mouths, but they also pose a tripping hazard. With extension cords and outlet extenders, you can use some of the same methods you use for babyproofing your outlets. But what do you do about the cords themselves?
Methods for babyproofing power cords and extension cords include:
- Remove all excess extension cords, especially those running across rooms.
- For cables that can't be removed, install cord covers that cover the cable and which adhere to the floor, reducing tripping hazards.
- Shorten longer cords by using an electrical cord shortener or replacing long ones with shorter ones.
- Place heavy furniture in front of areas where cords are plugged in so the baby cannot access power strips or plugs.
- Use baby gates to restrict where your child can go, keeping them away from areas with cords.
You may also have an issue with a curious child wanting to plug and unplug things into sockets and power strips. To help prevent this, you can install plug locks. These go into the end of plugs and are locked with a key, preventing your child from plugging the item in. This is a great option for things like vacuum cleaners and other electrical devices that do not stay plugged in but that your child may be able to access.
Babies and children love turning lights on and off. However, letting children play with light fixtures or light switches is not a good idea. Not only do they risk electrical shock, but they may also pull a light fixture down on themselves if they play with its cord. Try to limit your child's access to light fixtures, such as removing table lamps from their rooms and the areas in which they spend most of their time. Instead, try to utilize overhead lights when possible in these areas. For lamps and other corded fixtures that you can't remove, use cord shorteners and install outlet covers.
Electrical Devices & Appliances
In our modern world, we rely heavily on electric devices, from cell phones and computers to hair dryers and electric razors. Whether your device plugs directly into the wall or uses a corded charger, you want to keep these devices out of reach of your children. Choose a designated area of your home that your children cannot access to charge devices like cell phones and tablets. Keep all hand-held electrical devices locked up in cabinets with child locks so your children can't get to them. For devices that have to remain out, try using plug locks.
If you are in the process of babyproofing your home and have questions about preventing electrical hazards, reach out to Lightning Bug Electric for help. Our electricians are always happy to answer your questions. We also recommend speaking with your child's pediatrician for resources on childproofing and babyproofing services in your area.