Electrical safety in your home: baby-proofing done right!
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, 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 like 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 daycare, 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 SCI REMC.
Non-electrical baby-proofing checklist
Is your home fully baby-proofed?
- Check the crib. Make sure it meets today’s safety standards.
- Install window guards but remember they do not substitute parental supervision.
- Attach safety latches and locks for toilets, cabinets or drawers.
- Cut blind cords or use safety tassels and inner cord stops to ensure children don’t get entangled.
- Put up safety gates in front of any stairs in the house.
- Install corner and edge guards. These will prevent injuries from falls.
- Use doorstops and door holders. Keep small fingers from getting crushed or pinched.
- Make a kid-free zone. Keep kids away from grilling areas, or any structure that might contain tools, lawnmowers, etc.
Daycare safety: Your baby’s home-away-from-home!
- Try a child’s-eye view. Pay attention to hazards you might not notice when standing up. By looking at the space from the child's viewpoint, you may see accidents waiting to happen.
- Make sure your space is child safe. Dangerous chemicals and medicines should be stored out of children’s reach. Cover electrical outlets and store dangerous or breakable objects up high. Fix, lock up or discard anything that might be a danger to children. Be sure all outdoor play areas are fenced in to keep children safe.
- Arrange your space wisely. If a space is too open, you may find children running wildly. Set up shelves and other furniture to divide the room into separate learning and play areas.
- Organize toys and supplies to make things easy for children. Place toys on low shelves. Label the shelves with pictures and words so children will know where to put them back.
- Make sure the toys match the children's ages and abilities. Infants need toys they can shake, drop, mouth, roll and otherwise explore with their bodies. Toddlers need toys they can push, pull, grab, fill, dump or yank without causing major damage.
- Teach children how to handle toys and materials. Explain and model how to carefully handle books, toys and other materials.