Toddlers are very fond of getting their hands on electrical outlets and cords. Here are ways you can baby-proof electrical outlets and cords to keep them safe.
Exploring new things around the house is their job once babies start to crawl, which is how they learn and grow. As a parent, our responsibility is to keep them safe. As soon as they start crawling, their first target is to get their hands on kitchen cabinets and drawers.
While you might have baby-proofed kitchen cabinets and drawers with or without drilling, now it’s time to childproof electrical outlets and cords so they can explore your house without getting themselves hurt.
In this article, we will talk about electrical outlet safety, 9 ways to baby-proof electrical outlets & cords, and much more.
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Why are Electrical Outlets Dangerous for Babies?
Electrical outlets pose a serious risk of hazard to babies and toddlers. According to the National Fire Protection Association, an average of 4,963 injuries (shocks and burns) were caused by electrical receptacles between 2008 and 2016 in children under 18. These injuries are caused by children sticking items like a bobby pin, keys, fingers, paper clips, and others into electrical outlets.
This is scary, isn’t it!
These injuries can be easily avoided by carefully childproofing electrical outlets and cords before your baby starts crawling. First, let’s look at types of outlets installed in the household as not all electrical outlets in the house look the same. As it will help determine which kind of safety covers you need to childproof electrical outlets.
What kind of Electrical Outlets Used in the US?
There are many kinds of electrical outlets and receptacles depending upon the requirements of your electronics, appliances, and power tools.
In most US homes, the electrical outlets are standard 15-amp with two slots and a U-shaped grounding hole. Let’s look at the most common electrical outlets and receptacles in the US.
Temper Resistant Outlet
Building codes in most places mandates the use of tamper-resistant outlet for newer constructions. Temper-resistant outlets have a built-in shutter mechanism to prevent the insertion of any objects other than when you try to plug in a 2-pronged or 2-pronged and grounded hole plug. These are great safety features for a household with kids.
Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) outlets prevent heat generated by arching. Arching happens because of loose contact points in electrical systems, causing sparking or bussing noise. This sparking can lead to a fire. AFCI outlets detect when arching occurs and deactivates it by interrupting power.
Ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets are the ones with the “reset” and “Test” buttons. They are usually found in the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, or places close to water. GFCI outlets shut off when it detects the current surge (either by overheating or coming in contact with water), thereby reducing the risk of electrical shock.
USB wall outlets are now common in households. USB outlets allow the recharging of smartphones, tablets direct from the USB cable. These outlets are not a significant health hazard to babies and toddlers as the official voltage for USB is 5V unless they lick the USB outlet; in that case, they will feel a slight tingle or unpleasant metallic taste.
Okay, now that you know the main types of outlets found in most households in the US, let’s look at how to baby-proof electric outlets to avoid shock and burn hazards.
How to Baby-Proof Electrical Outlets and Cords?
There are various electricity outlets available in the market to keep your baby safe from electric shock. Let’s look at the outlet covers for empty outlets and then move on to the occupied outlet.
Easy ways to Baby-Proof Empty Outlets
Empty outlets are those that have nothing plugged into it, or they are not used frequently. There are several options to baby-proof it.
1. Plastic outlet Caps
The easiest way to baby-proof empty electric outlets is to use simple plastic outlet covers. They are simple plastic caps that cover the 3-pronged outlets. You need to remove it when you need the plug-in appliance and put it back in after use. These outlet caps are the cheapest option available in the market.
However, Temple University’s study found that 100% of 2-4 years old were able to remove plastic outlet caps within 10 seconds. SO, it may not be safest as your baby grows. But there is also a solution to this problem!
You can also buy plastic outlet covers that has special locking mechanism that will make it hard for your child to figure out.
2. Outlet Covers
Sliding outlet covers are a better option for baby-proofing empty outlets. They are 100% safer than plastic caps. These sliding outlet covers have a sliding plastic barrier that slides back into a place after use. This mechanism prevents foreign objects’ insertion into an outlet, thereby avoiding any shock or burn hazards.
It requires you to use the screwdriver to replace existing outlet covers with sliding outlet covers, and I promise it is very simple to do.
Although sliding outlet covers are a bit expensive, they are worth spending for those empty outlets you frequently use, such as vacuuming or ironing your clothes. I use a mix of sliding outlet covers and plastic caps for baby-proofing electric outlets in our house. I use plastic caps for those outlets that I rarely used.
3. Outlet Shield
Outlet shield is another smart option if you want to hide the outlet from the wall. This outlet shield fits right over the existing outlet, and you do not need tools to install it. You can also paint it to match with the wall color, so your baby won’t even notice the outlet. However, make sure you don’t remove the shield in front of your toddler. They are smart that way. This Safety plus outlet shield comes in a pack of two shields to safeguard two unused outlets.
Easy ways to Baby-Proof Occupied Outlets
Occupied outlets are those that are already plugged in for running appliances like TV, lamps, computers, and others. Occupied outlets are more fun for toddlers. They will pull the cord, unplug them and then try to put the plug back in or insert something else in the outlet. Riskier than an empty outlet, isn’t it!!
The easiest way to baby-proof occupied outlets is to hide them behind the furniture wherever you can. Hide occupied outlets behind the couch, side tables, or TV cabinets. But it may not always be possible to hide them from the sneaky toddler.
We do have some options for baby-proof occupied outlets. Let’s get into that.
4. Outlet Covers
Outlet covers are a great way to baby-proof occupied outlets, and they are hard for a toddler to get their hands into or figure it out.
An outlet box covers the outlet entirely, and it is usually used outdoors to protect the outlet from the weather. They can also be used for indoor childproofing. But keep in mind that they are comparatively bigger, so if your space is constrained, it may not fit.
But they are great for permanently blocking the occupied outlet that you hardly intend to unplug, like the ones plugged into the TV, washer, and dryer, or desktop.
5. Power Strip Cover
We all have power strips or power bars around the house (Specifically the computer and entertainment system area) to plug in multiple things. They are usually a fun spot for a toddler to hang out, many things to fiddle and pull!!
And what irritated me the most was my one-year-old turning the switch on and off now and then, and you keep wondering why TV is not turning on!!
Power strip covers are great for baby-proofing power strips and bars that you absolutely need in the house and can’t get away by hiding behind the furniture.
Safety 1at power strip covers are power strips or bar allowing cords to stick through. It fits most power strips (usually it is 13.5″ long), and it can be left on the floor or mounted on the wall.
Power strip covers make it impossible for a toddler to insert foreign objects like a bobby pin, paper clip into an outlet. But there is still enough room for them to put their fingers through, and they can still pull the cord and unplug it. But with a bit of discipline and a constant reminder about not pulling the cord, you can be successful in keeping your toddler away from it.
Ways to Baby-Proof Electrical Cords
Even after baby-proofing occupied outlets with outlet covers or outlet strip cover, there is still a risk of having long cords around toddlers. No matter what kind of appliance you have, cords are considerably long enough for your toddler to pull or get their hands on it.
Long cords pose a significant risk of choking if a baby wraps the cord around their neck, or shock hazard if they chew on the cord or get their hands on a damaged cord, or getting hurt by tripping over the long cord.
As mentioned earlier, the best you can do to baby-proof long cords is to hide them behind the furniture so your toddler can’t access them. But if that is not possible for a certain area of your house, there are several options for baby-proofing electrical cords.
6. Tie the Long Cord
The easiest way to handle long cords is to wrap and tie them with tape or zip tie. It is a simple, DIY solution to shorten the cord so your toddler can’t get their hands on a long cord to pull or chew. Or you can also use rubber bands or even paper clips to tie them.
If you are looking for something that looks a little fancier than a zip tie, keep reading.
7. Cord Shortener
A Cord shortener is a small plastic box that allows you to wrap the long cord inside it. And you can have your cord as sort as you need, thereby limiting access to your child.
This Safety 1st cord shortener comes with an electrical outlet cover and is easy to install. But before making a purchase, check what kind of outlet you have in your home because Safety 1st cord shortener is not compatible with new square power outlets. It is compatible with only oval-shaped sockets.
If you are looking for a cord shortener that you can use to shorten the cord of the lamp or appliances using less than 600 watts, Dream Baby Cord shortener gets the job done. Unlike the safety 1st cord shortener, the Dream baby cord shortener does not require any installation. They are great for preventing risks of strangulation.
8. Cord Covers
A cord cover like this one is great for hiding a long cord that runs from outlets to a lamp or computer in your living room or bedroom. They keep your floor or carpet free of cords. These cord covers are also paintable to match the color of the wall.
9. Duct Cord Covers
Duct cord covers are another alternative for cords that runs across a room. Duct cord covers are made of silicon or pliable plastic that allows you to hide multiple cords through them. These cord covers are generous in size, allowing multiple power cords, ethernet cables, phone lines to run through them. This Duct cord covers are designed to protect your floor cables from scuffs and prevent tripping over.
What should I do if my child gets shocked by an outlet?
All electrical injuries are considered severe and require examination by doctors. Even if your child looks normal after an electric shock by an outlet, call your doctor. If your toddler has poked a bobby pin into an outlet or biting an electrical cord, take her to an emergency right away. The initial burn may not look that bad, but there are chances that they have suffered internal injuries.
If your child gets shocked by an outlet, turn the power source immediately. Separate your child from the current with a wooden stick or any nonconductive thing. Have someone call 911. Next, you want to check his breathing and pulse. In the worst-case scenario, if your child is not breathing, give him CPR until paramedics arrive.
How long does Electricity stay in the Body after a Shock?
Your child may look fine after an electric shock, but you could see the damage caused by it for up to 10 days. Electric shock can damage your internal organ, including the heart and lungs, that can’t be evaluated without a medical examination. So, it is important to see a doctor after receiving an electric shock.
I hope this article has given you enough ideas for baby-proof electrical outlets and cords in your house. Along with baby-proofing electrical outlets and cords, teaching kids’ electric safety as they grow also works to prevent injuries.
Before you go, check out how-to baby-proof cabinets and drawers without drilling if you haven’t yet.
Let us know in a comment below if you have any tips on baby-proof electric outlets and cords.
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