Electrical Safety in the Home
Injuries involving electricity happen to about 100 children every year and around 80% of those injuries occur in the home.
Young boys between the ages of 10 and 14 are at greatest risk, because of their increased use of electrical appliances.
Many injuries occur in the kitchen and bathroom areas, because of their proximity to water and the most common injuries are from electrical appliances, frayed electrical cords and overhead power lines.
This page provides a handy checklist of
electrical safety basics and offers insights into how and what to teach your
kids to keep them safe around electricity.
Basic electrical safety in the home
Electricity is a wonderful thing that provides us with everything we need in our homes, including lighting, heating, cooling, cooking, washing and entertainment. But it can be dangerous if not treated with respect. Follow these basic rules to help make your home a safe environment for children:
– Inspect electrical appliances regularly for faulty plugs or switches, or frayed cords and replace them or have them repaired immediately
– Never attempt to repair electrical appliances yourself, but always take them to a licensed electrician.
– Avoid overloading double adapters or power boards with too many appliances as this can cause fires.
– Never poke anything into an appliance such as a toaster or kettle.
– Always switch appliances off and unplug them before cleaning.
– Avoid putting extension cords under rugs or carpet and only use outdoor-rated extension cords outside.
– Never touch a switch or electrical appliance with wet hands.
– Wear rubber-soled footwear when working in wet areas such as the laundry.
– Always turn the light switch off before replacing a light globe.
– Have an electrician install safety switches or RCDs (Residual Current Devices) to cut the power in the event of an electrocution.
Childproofing for babies and toddlers
When children are very young, they cannot be taught about the dangers of electricity, so it’s very important to make sure your home is as child-proof as possible.
The best way to do this is to actually get down on your hands and knees and crawl around, seeing things from a child’s point of view.
Once you do so, you’ll see all the things which you need to protect your baby or toddler from, including:
Power outlets – each of these should have plastic child-proof plugs inserted to prevent children from poking their fingers or other objects into them.
Power boards – when these cannot be moved out of a child’s reach, they should at least have inbuilt safety switches to prevent electrocution.
Dangling cords – these can be pulled down, possibly injuring the child, or giving them access to appliances that may still be switched on.
Mobile chargers – left lying around, these can be picked up and sucked by a young baby or toddler, which can result in electrocution.
Childproofing for older children
As children get older, they can start to be taught about the dangers of electricity, but it’s always a good idea to reinforce that education with rules that must be obeyed in the home. These could include:
No drinks around electrical appliances – spillages can cause electric shocks, so no drinks when using computers, game consoles, TVs or DVD players.
No touching electrical appliances without permission – this includes kitchen appliances and dad’s power tools, which should all be locked away when not in use.
No climbing trees unsupervised – not only is this dangerous from a falling perspective, but if branches are near overhead power lines, the consequences could be fatal.
What every child needs to be taught about electrical safety
Once your child is old enough to understand, it’s time to teach them about electrical safety. Because you cannot supervise them every moment of the day, they need to learn about the particular areas of the home that pose the greatest risk. These can include:
Wet areas – water and electricity do not mix, so electrical safety in bathrooms and around swimming pools is paramount. Children must learn that appliances such as hair dryers and electric shavers are not toys and must never be played with in the bathroom. Similarly, children should be taught not to place electrical appliances such as radios or DVD players too near swimming pools, in case they are accidentally splashed or fall into the water.
Outdoors – kids need to know that overhead power lines are dangerous and are always to be avoided . They should know that kites should only be flown in cleared areas away from power lines and that if they see a fallen power line to avoid it and tell an adult immediately.
Electrical appliances – kids these days have numerous electrical devices such as music players, portable TVs and computers, so they need to know how to use them responsibly, how always to switch them off at the wall when not in use, how to unplug them by the plug rather than the cord, how not to overload power points and to always make sure their hands are dry before touching appliances or light switches.