our everyday life

Are Nightlights Safe?

by Sara Ipatenco

A tiny light plugged into an outlet in your child's bedroom is often all it takes to calm your child's fear of the dark. Nightlights also light the way if your child needs to get up in the middle of the night. While small and seemingly innocent, nightlights can pose hazards if they aren't used properly. Install your nightlights correctly to reduce these risks so you can provide your child with a reassuring amount of light until the sun comes up.

Benefits

Many children are comforted by the small amount of light a nightlight gives off, which means they're more likely to settle down and go to sleep without tears and exclamations of fear. A nightlight also makes your child's environment safer by lighting the way if he needs to get up and go to the bathroom or if he gets up to come into your bedroom when he has a nightmare. The light can prevent trips, falls and tumbles down the stairs, too. They can also prevent you from tripping or stubbing your toe if you need to get up and go into your child's bedroom in the middle of the night.

Types

The most common nightlights contain a tiny light bulb and plug directly into the wall. They are inexpensive, but the light bulbs usually need to be replaced fairly often. LED nightlights give off more powerful light, but they are more expensive. You can also buy motion or light sensitive nightlights, which turn on if they sense movement or once it gets dark in the room. Color-changing or bubble nightlights are another option, but they contain methylene chloride, which is poisonous, and shouldn't be used around small children.

Dangers

Don't use nightlights near long curtains, drapes or bedding because that increases the risk of fire. Nightlights can also overheat, which can cause them to melt and catch fire. Children might also be burned by a hot nightlight bulb, so unplug them when it's not dark. You should also plug them in out of your child's reach whenever possible. Babies and small children can get a hold of a nightlight and play with it, which increases the risk that the light bulb will break or that he'll choke by putting it into his mouth. Nightlights can also pose an electrical shock risk, if your child spills water onto them or tries to unplug or plug one in on his own, according to the International Association of Home Inspectors.

Additional Considerations

If you have children, only use cool-touch nightlights. These don't get as hot as other nightlights, which reduces the risk of burns. Don't use nightlights with cartoon characters or other kid-friendly designs. These are more tempting to children, which can lead to injury if your child plays with one. Pay attention to recalls. According to Consumer Reports, more than 200,000 LED nightlights were recalled in 2012 because they overheated. The International Association of Home Inspectors notes that many nightlights are recalled each year because they pose burn, fire or electrical hazards. Only install nightlights directly into wall sockets in well-ventilated areas.

About the Author

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.

Photo Credits

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