Guide to Childproofing Outlets

Guide to Childproofing Outlets

When it comes to making a home safe for young kids, the first place many people think of is their electrical outlets. Well today, let’s take a comprehensive look at some of the options parents have when it comes to childproofing their outlets.

Beware the Dangers of Electricity

We’ve covered the basics of outlet covers in the past. The difference today, is that we’re looking to provide a comprehensive guide on the subject. After all, when it comes to baby proofing your home, you can never be too careful.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), approximately 2,400 children each year are shocked or severely burned after sticking metal items into outlets. It is estimated that there are six to 12 child fatalities a year related to these occurrences. That’s a serious risk.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways for parents to prevent an injury. Let’s take a look:

Childproofing Outlets Option #1: Tamper-Resistant Outlets

As you saw in the statistic above, kids love to insert small objects into outlets. To help prevent this, consider replacing basic outlets with special tamper-resistant outlets. These childproofing outlets look quite similar to “normal” outlets. The difference is that they have a unique safety feature: spring-loaded shutters that close off the receptacle’s openings.

Put simply, tamper-resistant outlets require that two objects be inserted at the same time in order for it to produce electrical power. This means that the outlet’s shutters will only open when they are compressed at the same time. Therefore, a plug must be specifically and correctly connected in order to access the tamper-resistant outlet. As a result, tamper-resistant outlets help to prevent your little ones from poking anything through one of the openings. Installing outlets like these will help to reduce the risk of your child suffering from an electrical injury.

That said, no safety precaution is absolutely perfect. Tamper-resistant outlets will not stop a child from learning how to use the outlet by imitating adults. Additionally, when enough force is applied, the shutters on a tamper-resistant outlet can be broken. This nullifies the safety feature and, to make matters worse, it can be hard for parents to even notice that this has occurred. For maximum safety, it is important to use multiple layers of protection to prevent injuries.

Childproofing Outlets Option #2: Sliding Outlet Covers

Up next, let’s talk about sliding outlet covers. Here’s how it works: when an electrical item is unplugged, the sliding cover automatically snaps closed over the outlet. It’s semi-permanent nature means that parents can rely on it. You can also easily see if a sliding outlet cover is malfunctioning. It also pairs excellently with a tamper-resistant outlet.

This childproofing solution is easy to set up. An adult simply needs to remove the existing outlet cover plate and replace it with a sliding outlet cover. Often, this is simply a matter of removing and replacing a single screw.

Childproofing Outlets Option #3: Outlet Caps

One of the most popular, cheapest and easiest solution for childproofing outlets is the humble outlet cap. These are simple plastic “plugs.” To install them, you simply plug them into the open outlet. This prevents small children from being able to pull them out. Of course, it also effectively blocks the outlet. As a result, they’ll need to be manually removed every time you want to plug something in.

The beauty of outlet caps are that they’re just plain easy to install and requires no time at all. You won’t need to grab a screwdriver… you just pop one into an open outlet and you’re good to go. For busy parents and babysitters, outlet covers are a great fix. These simple and inexpensive safety devices can baby proof every outlet in your house in no time. 

For example, take a look at this 12-pack of KidCo Electrical Outlet Caps.

Childproofing Outlets Option #4: “Socket Lockit”

This next solution is a slight variation on the outlet cap. The Cardinal Gates Socket Lockit features a pressure-button release. This keeps the cover locked in place, but also allows for easier removal by adults. It’s not exactly a separate category by itself, but definitely an option that parents should know about.

Childproofing Outlets Option #5: Power Strips 

Finally, let’s take a step away from the outlet… but not too far. We’re talking about power strips. A power strip sure can be convenient, but it can also add layers of electrocution danger. Kids love to pull on these and play with them. That said, there are plenty of times when a power strip is absolutely required. These devices can be a tad more difficult to child proof, but there is a way. A safety cover for a power strip can be a real life saver. These make it far more difficult for a child to play around with a potentially deadly live electrical outlet.

This Power Strip Cover from Safety 1st can easily be adjusted to cover the full power strip, including the plugs. It can even be mounted directly onto your wall to keep the plugs out of the way from curious hands.

Final Tips for Childproofing Outlets

In the end, parents and caregivers must decide which solutions work best for their own home and lifestyle. Childproofing isn’t an exact science, and the best practices are always evolving. Be sure to keep reading this blog to see all the latest in child safety information.

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