Baby-Proofing Your Home for Electrical Safety
Babies go from birth to crawling and toddling in the blink of an eye, which means the best time for baby-proofing your home is before your baby is born. Before you know it, tiny fingers could be exploring outlets, and unsteady feet might trip over an electrical cord. Electrical appliances can also pose a risk, especially when you use them around water.
Small fingers fit easily into open sockets, and it takes only a moment of inattention for a baby or toddler to receive a nasty shock. Since 2008, it's been mandatory that all new and renovated outlets are tamper-resistant, which means that the electricity flows only when both prongs of a plug are inserted. A poke from a single finger shouldn't trigger the current in a tamper-resistant outlet; nevertheless, leaving your outlets uncovered isn't worth the risk.
You can use safety plugs, covers or plates to make your outlets safe for exploring babies and toddlers.
- Outlet plugs are simple plastic devices that remain in the outlet when it isn't being used. Though these safety plugs do block the holes, some toddlers are curious enough to remove them. The open outlet is then ready for investigation, and the plug becomes a choking hazard.
- Outlet covers encase the entire outlet, allowing only electrical leads to poke out. Covers are effective but best for using with appliances that are permanently plugged in, like computers and lamps.
- Outlet plates have sliding doors that can be pulled back to plug in or unplug cords temporarily. The outlet's only exposed when it's being used. As soon as the plug is pulled out, the cover springs closed.
Electrical cords are tripping and fire hazards, and when they're old and frayed, they can give electrical shocks. Here are some ideas on how to protect your baby from dangerous electrical cords:
- Don't allow cords to trail across doorways or the floor where your baby or other family members might trip.
- Don't run cords under rugs, where they can overheat and start a fire.
- Avoid using extension cords by asking an electrician to fit more outlets where you need them.
- Unplug electrical devices when they aren't being used and wind up the cords.
- Replace old, damaged, frayed and worn electrical cords.
Electrical Appliance Safety
Electrical appliances make the hard work of raising a baby easier, but they can also be dangerous. Take special care when using an electrical device with a baby in the room.
- Don't give your baby toys that must be plugged into an outlet.
- Unplug any electrical items within your baby's reach.
- Don't use electrical items near water.
- Check that ground fault circuit interrupters are installed in your bathroom, kitchen and any other water sources.
- Make sure all your appliances have Underwriters' Laboratories (UL) approval, either on the appliance or the box.
A qualified electrician can upgrade your outlets to make them tamper-resistant and install new outlets so that you don't have to use extension cords. Baby-proofing your home also involves developing safe habits when using electrical appliances. With a little planning, you can keep the smartest, most curious baby safe.
For answers to your questions about baby-proofing your home for electrical safety, contact Ragsdale.