If you're a parent, you know that it's an important part of your job to protect your child from everyday hazards. You probably have locks on cabinets that contain chemicals, you probably slice grapes to prevent choking, and you've no doubt discovered just how useless those plastic outlet covers can be. Children have a knack for figuring out what you don't want them to. If you've run into this problem, you're probably wondering what you can do. Read on.
Make Sure Wiring is Safe
It's common for families living in older homes to make due with what outlets they have. They use two-to-three-prong adapters and surge protectors or outlet extenders in order to plug in their modern appliances. This is not only more likely to overload an older system, but it is also a shock hazard for children.
Surge protectors and outlet extenders present very real electrical shock hazards, especially to children who can't resist playing with such things. Poorly constructed electrical equipment is prone to fraying and overheating. When a surge protector overheats, it can cause shorts and overloads. For these reasons, it's important not to depend on adapters, extension cords, or surge protectors too much. If your home needs a wiring update, it's time to call an electrician, not invest in equipment that may result in hazards.
Block Outlets with Heavy Furniture
Out of sight, out of mind, especially when you're a toddler. An outlet cover often just looks like a fun challenge, and many toddlers are quite capable of figuring out how to remove them. Even scarier, sometimes kids resort to using objects like butter knives to pry them out of their sockets. This, of course, results in immediately applying the makeshift lever to the outlet itself.
Instead of relying on outlet covers as your first line of defense, they should be considered a last stand. A determined toddler will only be slowed by an outlet cover. A better first line is blocking the outlet, thus removing it from temptation. Bookshelves, seating arrangements and desks are usually the best things to use to block outlets, since they are immobile. Don't rely on end tables or toy boxes to prevent a child from accessing an outlet.
Install GFCI Outlets
The acronym GFCI stands for ground fault circuit interrupter. These special outlets can tell when too much electricity is flowing through the outlet. Most of the time, that means that you'll have to hit the reset button on it because your blow dryer was on high, but in the case of a child being shocked, it is a literal lifesaver. The interrupter "notices" that too much current is flowing through the outlet and shuts it down, preventing more severe electrical shocks and even death. So if your re-wiring and outlet blocking don't stop your Little Engine Who Could, you've got one last saving grace.
Having an electrician come in to install a GFCI outlet is fast and easy, and the cost is minimal when compared to the cost of not having one.
Protecting kids from themselves is a tireless, thankless job that requires constant vigilance and lots of forethought. Parenting isn't for wimps, but you've got this. Now that you know a little about common electrical hazards you're ready to make sure your home is capable of handling whatever your little one can throw at it. Electricity is necessary for today's standard of living, but it is still a force of nature and not one to be taken lightly. Go through your home and talk to an electrician about what you can do to help keep your precious babies healthy and happy. Contact a company like All American Air & Electric, Inc. to get started.