Your child can stick something, such as a fork, into an outlet and experience an electric shock. Approximately 2,400 children are injured this way each year, the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education reports. Depending on the strength of the electricity, that can cause anything from mild discomfort to death. Safeguard your child from electric shock by purchasing and installing outlet covers.
Purpose and Function
Electric outlet covers are small pieces of plastic that plug into the outlet, and they prevent children from sticking their fingers or other objects inside. Installing outlet covers is the best way to prevent your child from getting an electric shock, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics' HealthyChildren.org. Put outlet covers into each and every outlet in your home, including those in your child's bedroom, your bedroom, any living spaces, the kitchen, bathrooms and the playroom. Don't assume that if your child doesn't use a particular room, you don't need covers. Small children are tricky and can escape into any room in your home. It's better to be safe than sorry, so cover all outlets.
What to Look For
Most retail stores that stock baby gear and equipment sell several types of outlet covers. It doesn't really matter which ones you choose; what matters is that you use them at all. Look for outlet covers that would be hard for your child to remove and then read the installation instructions exactly so you use them properly. Many stores sell more expensive outlet covers that must be squeezed or manipulated to remove. In most cases, small children aren't able to remove these covers. Regularly inspect the outlet covers to be sure they're in good repair. Replace any broken or cracked covers. Check outlets often to make sure they're still covered. If you see an outlet missing a cover, install one immediately.
If you have a larger budget, consider replacing the electrical outlets themselves. Replace them with swivel or sliding outlets. Swivel outlet covers rotate when something is unplugged to immediately cover the openings. This prevents children from sticking their fingers or objects into the outlets. Sliding outlets work in a similar way. When something is unplugged, a piece of plastic slides over the openings, preventing your child from putting things inside. Swivel and sliding outlets are available at home improvement stores and are usually simple to install.
Take additional precautions to prevent your child from beings shocked. Tuck electrical cords out of your child's reach. Children can experience an electrical shock by biting into a cord, according to HealthyChildren.org. Discard items that have damaged or frayed electrical cords, as well. If your child is shocked by an electrical outlet, call 911 immediately. Turn off the power to your home, as well. Don't move your child unless she's in immediate danger. Don't touch your child with your bare hands because that can cause you to also get shocked. Instead, move your child using something that doesn't conduct electricity, such as a board or another thick, dry object. The Kids Health website recommends that all parents learn CPR for instances such as electrical shock. If your child isn't breathing or doesn't have a pulse, knowing and administering CPR can save his life.
- HealthyChildren.org: Electric Shock
- Kids Health: Household Safety: Preventing Burns, Shocks and Fires
- Mayo Clinic: Electric Shock: First Aid
- National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education: Chapter 5: Facilities, Supplies, Equipment, and Environmental Health
- Baby Proofing Basics: How to Keep Your Child Safe; Vicki Lansky
- Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images