With today’s ever-increasing dependence on electricity in our homes, it is essential to understand the inherent risks to children from electrical outlets, appliances, and wires. A young child’s curiosity, while an endearing trait in safe play spaces, can be extremely dangerous if a home is not properly child-proofed and given the seal of approval by a licensed electrician. To start making your home safer today, take a look below for some considerations and pointers on child-proofing your home against electrical shocks.
Start Looking from a Different Perspective
There’s no better way to see what kind of potentially dangerous mischief a young child can get into than by crouching — or even crawling — down to their level and viewing the world through their eyes. Scoping out your home from this lower vantage point and try to assess which elements may pose a problem for a wandering child who isn’t yet aware of the dangers presented by electricity.
In addition to taking some of the precautions we’ll list below, it is always advisable that you begin educating your child about electrical safety early. If they can crawl, it’s time to start with instructions as simple as, “No,” when you see their interest veering towards electrical sockets and those fun-to-twist wires. Positive reinforcement, such as in the form of small rewards when your child heeds your warnings, can also go a long way in promoting their safety in the long term.
Everyday Precautions for Cords and Outlets
Did you know that the majority of electrical-related injuries can be traced back to household appliances and power tools? For this reason, the following recommendations are made to child-proof your home against electrical injuries:
1. Look out for frayed electrical cords
These should be safely secured out of reach of children or, more ideally, replaced altogether. This recommendation especially applies to cords at floor level, such as those attached to lamps.
2. Repair broken appliances and outlets
Occurrences of shortages and breakage in outlets should be taken as an early warning sign of potential danger. Compromised appliances, such as those that make ominous fizzle sounds or outlet covers should be replaced or repaired as soon as possible.
3. Check your circuits regularly
Following electrical storms, take extra care to check that everything is in working order, from light switches to appliances. Surges associated with storms can cause immediate damage to otherwise functioning systems.
4. Keep play areas free of temptation.
Keep your child’s room and play areas free of extension cords and power strips. Young children are more likely to chew or play with cords, appliances, and electrical sockets if they are in their play area.
5. Invest in electrical outlet caps
These affordable plastic covers are plugged directly into outlets. Lying flat against open electrical sockets, outlet caps stop children from sticking small fingers — or anything else they find — into live sockets.
6. Unplug before bed
Make a habit of unplugging appliances before bed. In case your little one decides to go on an exploration of your home while you’re sleeping, unplugging appliances gives them less dangerous “toys” to tamper with.
Know Your Home’s History
Just as you wouldn’t want to sport a hideous old rug or wallpaper as modern decor, your home’s electrical systems should likewise be kept current. After all, not everything ages as finely as wine. Older Toronto home’s electrical systems are likely to bear the wear and tear of time if they aren’t updated as often as they should be.
Unlike those of modern homes, older electrical systems are more prone to tripping a fuse or breaker under higher power or cause fires due to overheated wires. Aluminum wiring may be a particular concern you have if your home was built between the late 1960s or 70s, as this has become associated over the years with overheating and other electrical hazards.
Beyond these threats to you and your family, an older system’s loose connections or wiring that isn’t up to code can place a prying child at greater risk of electrocution. Needless to say, these are gambles you don’t want to take.
Keep Your Home Current
If your home’s electrical system is out of date, you aren’t sure of its history, or you see evidence of something fishy–such as exposed wiring–you’ll want to contact a licensed electrician as soon as possible to have your home’s system inspected and updated, as needed.
Installation of GFCIs (ground-fault circuit interrupters) as a replacement for older outlets is one practical and cost-efficient way to directly prevent electric shocks from an electrical system. In simple terms, GFCIs are able to detect irregular electrical current flow, such as those that could produce an electric shock, and shuts off the power. Problematic appliances are also shut off automatically. The outlet must then be manually reset to restore power. GFCIs are highly recommended for rooms in your home that are directly linked to water sources — and some of children’s favourite play sites — like bathrooms and kitchens.
In addition to a recommended overall electrical inspection, some services you may want to consider taking advantage of include power surge protection, panel upgrades, and general repairs.
For more information about child-proofing your home from electrical shocks, call Hi-Lite Electric Inc. or contact us here.