Childproofing Electrical Outlets

Feb 15, 2011

By Staff writer State Farm™ Employee

When childproofing your home, try getting down on all fours to see the world from your childís point of view. Once there, youíll get a better perspective on one of the more dangerous hazards that, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, send about 2,400 children a year to the emergency room: electrical outlets.

In addition to their tiny fingers, children will find any number of household items to stick into the outletómost often hairpins or keys. This innocent exploration can lead to first- or second-degree electrical burns, since a childís skin is thinner and easily conducts electricity. In some instances, the electric shock can be fatal.

You canít prevent children from being curious, and constant supervision of them isnít always possible either. So take a moment to become familiar with the electrical outlet safety measures currently available.

Plastic Outlet Protectors

The most inexpensive safety outlet cover, these caps fit their prongs directly into outlet holes. The drawback is that children can figure out how to remove them. Also, you may forget to re-insert them and leave the outlet uncovered. If you misplace the small covers, they can be a choking hazard for very young children. Plastic outlet protectors may be better than nothing, but there are safer options.

Complete Outlet Covers

These cover the complete outlet face, or switchplate. In addition, they cover the ends of your plugged-in cords, keeping the entire area of the wall safe. Make sure these are easy to remove for adults so other cords can be plugged inóbut not too easy, as a curious child might then be able to snap them off the switchplate.

Child Tamper-Resistant Face Outlet Covers

These covers are characterized by switchplates with faces that swivel or slide over the outlet holes. Check your hardware store, as some are intended as replacement switchplates and other kinds can be retrofit over existing outlets.

Child Tamper-Resistant Outlets

They look just like any other outlet, but behind the face there are plastic shutters, designed to remain closed until a plug is inserted. Its safety is based on the idea that most young children will not try to stick two objects into the two vertical outlet holes at the same time. These are the safest option for electrical outlet safety, as they are permanent and automatic.

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