Little is more important when childproofing a home than proper electrical safety. Electricity is something we use every day. Sometimes we forget that even though its use is second nature to us, we still have to use it safely to protect our children and ourselves. Here are a few basic ideas to help babyproof your home.
Install Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters Near Water
Always install ground fault circuit interrupters at all electrical plugs within ten feet of any water source. A ground fault circuit interrupter will detect stray current and interrupt the circuit to prevent electrocution. In comparison, a circuit breaker takes longer to detect stray current. Installing ground fault circuit interrupters is important because they save lives!
Cover Electrical Plugs
When our grandchildren were babies and toddlers, electrical outlet protection consisted of various types of plastic plugs. These had prongs which pushed into an outlet just as any electrical cord does. They filled the outlet holes, thus preventing a child from inserting a paperclip or some other conductive material into the outlet. The downside here is that kids quickly learned to pull these plastic plugins out of the socket. Modern technology has once again met the challenge. You can now buy plastic electric outlet covers that either slide to the side when you want to plug in a lamp, or they snap shut automatically when you disconnect a cord. Either way, faceplates or outlets are revealed only when it is time for an adult to use them. Plus, the spring-loaded covers are strong enough to prevent a toddler from opening them.
In today's electronic age, no home is free of electrical strips, surge protectors or computers. Both the strips and the computer's central processing unit rest on the floor, placing both within easy reach of a young child. This potentially exposes kids to electrocution hazards. Manufacturers have produced covers for both the surge protectors and the central processing unit. Even though light switches are a little harder to reach, they should also be protected by plastic switch covers. Don't underestimate a toddler's curiosity or determination.
To reduce the potential for children to asphyxiate themselves, apply cord shorteners to all lamp and computer cords that have more length than needed. To reduce the potential for a baby or toddler to accidentally bite (they put everything into their mouths) into a live wire, apply wire guards or covers to the wire and secure it to the baseboards in your home.
All of these safety devices can save the life of your baby or toddler. For a few dollars, you can substantially reduce the electrical hazard exposure to your child. All can be ordered on line or found in many local hardware stores. They are a fast and low-cost step to babyproofing your home.
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