Protecting Your Children From Electricity

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Babies and young children seem to be drawn to electricity as steel is to a magnet. They want to poke into outlets, pull and chew on cords and push and jiggle switches - all of which can result in electrical shock and/or serious bruises and contusions. Mouth burns from a child chewing on a plugged in electrical cord are one of the worst hazards. Electrical burns to the mouth account for half the injuries to young children and are associated with electrical extension cords. And overloading outlets is also responsible for causing house fires.

  • Cover all electrical outlets that are not in use with safety devices. Replace outlet plates with covers where the face plate slides automatically across the outlet when the plug is removed. One safer type requires the adult to twist or slide the plug in for it to work.
  • Or use safety outlet plug-ins (white or clear) to prevent a child from sticking things into the outlet. These are less expensive and useful although some children have been able to remove them and then choke on these "safety" devices, unless they are large enough not to present a choking hazard. It's not just crawling  infants attracted to plug-ins. Two and three year old children still need to be watched.
  • Check for exposed outlets behind furniture that you have overlooked - but that your child probably will discover.
  • Don't use extension cords unless absolutely necessary. Be sure any you use are marked #16 or a lower AWG number. (The lower the number, the larger the wire and the more current the cord can safely carry.) Safety tips on the use of extension cords are available from CSPC. Send a postcard to Cords, CSPC, Washington, DC 20207 or call 1-800-638-CSPC.
  • Keep fans up high, out of your baby's reach. Blades may be sharp and dangerous, even when the fan isn't operating.
  • Get all cords completely out of reach of your baby by tacking them under pieces of furniture, taping them to walls or wrapping them around the legs of heavy tables or around cord shorteners. Cord shorteners are available and may provide the neatest solutions.
  • Be aware that dangerous overheating can occur if electrical plugs don't fit tightly into wall outlets. Make sure air can circulate freely around such equipment as television sets, radios, stereos and DVD players. Be sure cabinets enclosing them have proper openings.
  • Don't leave a lamp without a bulb in it, or a hot bulb a child can reach.
  • If you can't teach your child not to touch your electronic equipment (some just can't resist!), place the equipment up high if possible or use device safety guards.

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