Electrical outlets can be some of the most dangerous parts of your home. When not handled with care, these outlets can cause burns, shocks, fires, and even explosions. Almost seven children per day, or about 2,400 annually, receive serious burns or shocks by sticking objects into electrical outlets. Fortunately, as a parent, you can take several precautionary measures to keep your children safe around electrical outlets.

Outlet Box Covers

Covering outlets with box covers is one of the easiest ways to keep children safe. Box covers are oversized and designed to cover the entire outlet box. They keep children safe by creating a physical barrier between their curious fingers and the outlets. You have several options to choose from. Self-closing box covers immediately cut off power to the outlet when you remove the plug. Sliding covers slide to cover the outlet when it’s not in use.

Tamper-Resistant Outlets

Tamper-resistant outlets mimic the appearance of regular outlets. However, when they’re not in use, their spring-loaded cover plates seal off the outlet slots; this prevents children from being able to stick their fingers or foreign objects in them. To open the cover plates and insert a regular plug, you must apply equal pressure to both sides.

Outlet Caps and Inserts

Outlet caps and inserts are different from outlet covers in that they don’t cover the entire outlet. Instead, they block access to one or more of the receptacles in an outlet by plugging directly into them. Even though outlet inserts and caps make outlets safer, they are fairly simple to remove, meaning they may not work well for safeguarding children over the age of 2 who know how to remove the caps.

Cord Shorteners

Cord shorteners make it possible to manage extra-long cords that extend from electrical outlets. This minimizes the possibility of becoming entangled in the cords and stumbling. It also lessens the likelihood that your children will pull on the cords since you can make them shorter. By keeping them short and out of reach, the shorteners make the home much safer.

Cord Winders

Cord winders make it simple to wind up and store electrical cords when you aren’t using them. This is another excellent strategy to prevent tripping hazards, especially in areas where your children spend a lot of time. Because they are available in a range of sizes and styles, the winders can easily fit a wide variety of cords.

Cord Protectors

Cord protectors cover electrical cords to prevent damage and help keep children from tampering with them. The protectors encase the cords in a durable and flexible plastic or rubber material. This provides a protective barrier, which is particularly beneficial if you have a child who likes to chew on cords. It also minimizes the risk of electrical shocks or short circuits by shielding the cords from moisture, dust, and other environmental hazards.

Don’t Use Extension Cords

Extension cords pose a major tripping hazard. Their vivid orange color also attracts curious hands and teeth. This is why it’s a good idea to not use them if at all possible. But if you do, use ones that aren’t a bright color and always cover them with cord protectors. You don’t want your child to pull at the cords or mess with them at all.

Block Areas Where You Can’t Hide Cords

If there are parts of the home that have a lot of exposed cords, it’s best to block them off from your children. Two of the easiest ways to do this are by rearranging furniture or putting up baby gates. If you can’t block access to these areas, make sure to use cord concealers, shorteners, and organizers to prevent access to them.

Check for Loose Plugs

Outlet plugs should be firmly attached to the outlets; this is crucial to preventing accidental disconnection. Loose plugs are a major fire hazard, especially when they’re in the reach of children. Regularly checking for and replacing loose plugs will make your home much safer.

Cover Power Strips

Power strips can be just as dangerous as electrical outlets in the wall. The good news is that you can use power strip covers to limit access to the outlets on the strips. Most power strip covers come in a flip-up or sliding version, both of which simplify keeping your children safe without hindering your access to the power strips.

Use GFCI Outlets

Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets work by immediately cutting power to an outlet in the event they detect a ground fault or imbalance in electrical currents. Installing GFCI outlets in all areas where your children spend time is an excellent way to make the home safer. This means you’ll most likely want to use them in the kitchen, family areas, bathrooms, and bedrooms of your children.

Use AFCI Outlets or Breakers

Electrical outlets or breakers with Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) technology prevent fires caused by arcing faults, which may occur due to broken wires or improper connections. Any room that might have an electrical fire should have an AFCI outlet or breaker installed. This includes bedrooms and living rooms. These safety gadgets give an extra degree of protection to your house by detecting aberrant electrical discharges and cutting power before a fire can start.

Replace Damaged Outlets

Any time you notice a damaged outlet, it’s very important to cut power to that outlet and have it replaced immediately. Damaged outlets are a huge risk for fire, shocks, and burns. Cracks, charring, or burn marks on the outlet cover or surrounding area are signs of a damaged outlet. Replacing damaged outlets is not something you should do yourself. Instead, you need to have an electrician do the job for you.

Teach Your Children About Electrical Safety

The best way to keep kids safe around electricity is to teach them not to touch plugged-in devices. Make sure they keep electrical cables away from water and never play with appliances or outlets that provide electricity. Show them how to use outlets correctly and how to safely disconnect wires by holding the plug, not the cord. Make sure they know not to plug anything strange into an outlet and to ask an adult for help if they spot a broken cable or outlet.

Use Nightlights

Bedrooms and playrooms are prime locations for children to reach electrical outlets and wires, so it’s important to install nightlights in these places to keep them safe. The use of nightlights also makes it simpler for youngsters to go in dark corridors, restrooms, and other locations without tripping over items. For maximum energy efficiency, look for LED nightlights that include sensors that activate at sunset and deactivate at sunrise. To ensure that your children cannot put anything into the outlets of your nightlights, look for models with a tamper-resistant design.

Finch Home Solutions is here to help with all of your electrical outlet safety needs in Shakopee, MN. We also specialize in lighting upgrades, smoke alarm installation, whole-home surge protection, and ceiling fan wiring. Give us a call today to learn more about making your home safer for your kids.

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