Whether you’re about to welcome your first baby home or already have toddlers romping about, you’ve probably thought a lot about safety. You have gates to cordon off unsafe areas; you’ve attached rubber guards to sharp corners. You have baby locks on cabinet doors and have anchored tall bookcases and furniture to the wall. But there’s another world of potential danger mostly out of sight.
“Electrical outlets and cords may not be things we think about when initially baby-proofing our homes because they are close to the floor or hidden behind furniture and curtains,” said Jon Elkins, vice president of safety, training and compliance at Indiana Electric Cooperatives. “But these are some of the first places curious crawlers and toddlers explore when left on their own for even a few seconds. Make sure you have potential hazards covered before they find them.”
Here are some things to consider when electrically baby-proofing your home:
- Take a walk around the entire house and garage to map out all electrical outlets.
Plug tight-fitting outlet covers into all unused outlets to prevent tiny fingers or a found object, such as a paper clip, from being inserted into the outlet slots.
- For wall outlets in use, get outlet boxes that enclose the entire outlet and the plugs to keep youngsters from pulling the plugs out and exposing the slots.
- All new homes and homes renovated after 2008 must have tamper-resistant receptacles (TRRs) installed. These outlets use a spring shutter system that prevents a foreign object, such as a hairpin or paper clip, from entering just one side of the outlet. For a double layer of protection, you may still want to use outlet covers on TRRs.
- Make sure all power cords dangling from an end table or desk are tightly secured to prevent little ones from tugging on them and pulling electric devices or appliances down on top of them. All charging cords for phones, laptops and other devices should be shortened or tucked away so babies cannot tug on them, put them in their mouth or chew on them, which could cause a serious electric shock.
- Make sure night lights and appliances are completely plugged into wall outlets. Small fingers can easily find partially exposed prongs.
- Make sure these same precautions are taken wherever your baby spends time, such as at a day care, a grandparent’s home or at a babysitter’s. Always have extra plastic outlet covers in your diaper bag or luggage for protection when traveling with your baby in a new environment where outlet covers may not be in use.
For more information about TRRs and how to keep your home properly baby-proofed, reach out to Indiana Electric Cooperatives.