Whether you like it or not, electrical products form a major part of our everyday lives. You can find them in every room of your home. Power outlets, extension leads, phone chargers, computer cables… The list goes on. Unfortunately, none of these electrical products were designed with your baby’s safety in mind.
Okay, lets do some basic kiddie math…
Baby + Electricity = Disaster
When looking at how to baby proof (or “child proof” if you don’t like calling your little one a baby) your home, you must consider everything and anything that is electrical because, as you may have noticed, electrical products and your baby just don’t mix.
Baby Proofing Electrical Outlets
I don’t know what it is about electrical outlets, but baby’s love them. Maybe it’s because they see you plugging in an appliance and want to imitate you. Maybe it’s because outlets look like little faces, just waiting to be fed something.
What, you don’t see it? Look again…
Those faces are hungry and ready to be fed a meal of coins, keys and anything else your baby can squeeze inside.
Ever heard of the electric chair? Zap! If your baby puts any object in a power outlet then the result will be similar; a serious risk of electric shock. You definitely do not want to rush your child to an emergency room because they have been electrocuted.
According to the National Fire Protection Assoscation, approximately 2,400 children suffer from severe shock and burns caused by items being poked into the slots of electrical receptacles. Even more worrying, approximately 12 children will die from these injuries each year.
As you can see, electrical outlets are dangerous… But wait! Before you run out and buy baby proofing products, you need will need to take a closer look at the outlet you have installed and why it matters.
Hiding behind your outlet cover is a receptacle. This is what the electrical wires screw into. Essentially each outlet in your house will be one of the following:
1. Regular electrical Receptacle
A regular electrical receptacle. If you look at the vertical slots you will notice that they are open, allowing your baby to poke objects inside. If you house was built prior to 2008 and you have not renovated then chances are you will have these installed.
Since your baby can poke things into this outlet; it will need to be baby proofed.
2. Tamper Resistant Receptacle
You may notice that the vertical slots on this receptacle appears to have been filled in with plastic. These are actually spring loaded shutters that close off the openings to the contacts. The only time these shutters will open is if they are pushed simultaneously (as in you plugging something into the outlet). Since your baby wont be able to compress both openings at once he will be unable to poke anything into the outlet.
All new houses built after 2008 will have tamper-resistant receptacle (also known as TRR’s) installed as standard, as required by the National Electrical Code. If you have renovated after this date then the electrician may have also replaced your outlets.
In addition to the plastic filled vertical slots, TRR’s can also be identified by the letters “TR” engraved between the two vertical slots. If you look closely at the above picture you may just be able to make it out.
As you may have guessed, this style of electrical outlet does not require baby proofing.
Only one last thing to identify.
Whether your outlet is a standard or Decora style. This is important as it determines which baby proofing products will fit your outlet. You don’t want to buy a baby safety product only to discover it doesn’t fit!
Fortunately telling the two styles apart is dead simple.
Standard electrical outlet
Decora electrical outlet
The key difference is how the outlet cover attaches to the receptacle. The standard style uses a screw (seen between the two outlets) while the Decora simply clips into the cover. If you have a GFCI power outlet, then for the purpose of baby proofing; consider it a Decora outlet.
So before we continue you should be able to answer the following to questions:
- Is does the outlet use a Standard Receptacle or Tamper Resistant Receptacle.
- Is the style of the outlet standard or Decora?
With those two questions answered it’s time to start baby proofing your electrical outlets.
Baby proofing empty electrical outlets
An empty electrical outlet is an outlet that has no appliances plugged in. These outlets are just sitting there, tempting your baby to poke something inside. Fortunately baby proofing these outlets is not only cheap but incredibly easy to do. The most basic solution is the electrical outlet cap.
Electrical outlet caps
The first and cheapest way to prevent your child sticking objects in electrical outlets is to buy a packet (or more if required) of child proof electrical outlet caps. These covers are entirely made of plastic and plug directly into your electrical outlet. The exposed front is entirely flat, making it difficult for your child to grip. If your baby cant poke anything inside, then he is safe. It’s that simple.
The only downside of electrical safety caps is that you will need to remove them every time you need to use the electrical outlet, such as when you are vacuuming. If it slips your mind to put the plug cover back into the outlet when you are done, the baby proofing effect is lost.
You will need to count out just how many outlet caps you need before you commit to buying a packet (they are generally cheaper when bought in bulk). Don’t forget to count unused power strip outlets when figuring out how many you need.