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 Select Electrical Safety Products
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HOW TO SELECT ELECTRICAL SAFETY PRODUCTS

When you begin to childproof, one of the first items you'll want to address is electrical safety. Outlets, wires and cords are within easy reach of your crawling baby so it’s wise to install electrical safety items before your child becomes mobile. This will help prevent injuries and give you time to become accustomed to using them regularly. Products that help guard against the dangers of electricity differ with respect to function, style, degree of protection and ease of use.

TYPES AND STYLES OF ELECTRICAL SAFETY PRODUCTS

Carefully examine the areas where electrical outlets and appliances are located to select the safest and most appropriate type for each location. When it comes to electrical wires and cords, it's best to get them out of the way­, which may mean enclosing them inside specially designed cases or covers, or moving appliances to eliminate the hazard.

Following are some questions that may help you select the most appropriate, safest and most convenient products to fit your needs and lifestyle.

  • How often will plugs be used in each outlet? 

  • Will certain outlets be used frequently, such as for vacuuming?

  • Are any outlets rarely or perhaps never used?

  • Are any appliances plugged into the same outlet all the time?

  • Lamps and TVs are good examples.

  • Are any outlets located near water?

For example, bathrooms and outdoor outlets should be outfitted with GFCI (Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter) Outlets that help prevent injury from electrical shocks when operating appliances near areas where there is water. GFCI Outlets should be installed by a licensed electrician.

Outlet Caps/Outlet Plugs

Simple and inexpensive, Outlet Caps have two prongs which plug into the outlet to block the openings. They are best suited to block outlets that are not needed since some caps may be very difficult to remove while others may loosen with use.

Outlet Caps are generally inconvenient since they must be removed and replaced each time an outlet is used. A good solution, but certainly not the safest, they are easily misplaced, and if one receptacle is covered while the other is being used, there is always the danger of your child removing the plug and leaving one of the outlets exposed. If you're going to use them, carefully select Outlet Caps that are child-safe. Certain styles are specifically designed to prevent drafts and a small child could choke on them.

Shock-Loks offer an inexpensive alternative with more protection than individual Outlet Caps. They have a strap which attaches to the center screw of the outlet plate to help prevent misplaced caps. Also, when a plug is removed, the dangling cap helps remind you to replace it in the outlet.

Self-Closing Outlet Plates

Self-Closing Outlet Plates replace the original outlet plate. They require a sliding motion to insert a plug into the outlet. When the plug is removed a cover snaps back to automatically block the outlet. Although more expensive than Outlet Caps, they offer an attractive, convenient and extremely safe solution for outlets, especially those you'll be using regularly. Another added feature: older siblings can be taught to use them.

Here are some considerations:

  • Carefully select products for all your outlets. Some are designed only for three-pronged outlets, while others are available for two-pronged and Decorator outlets as well. (Standard, three-pronged, grounded outlets and older-style, two-pronged, ungrounded outlets attach to the wall with one screw. Decorator outlets attach with two screws.)
  • Some Self-Closing Outlet Plates have the added feature of a foam backing that also makes them energy efficient.

Outlet Covers

Outlet Covers attach to the existing outlet plate. They completely enclose the plugs in the outlets and allow the cords to thread through an opening in the bottom of the cover. Ideal for appliances plugged in on a permanent basis, they block access to the plugs and the outlets. An adult must firmly squeeze the side locking tabs to remove the cover. This style of cover is only available for use with standard one screw outlets.

For large plugs from power strips and transformers such as those on baby monitors and wipe warmers, a larger outlet cover is available. This cover is available for both standard single screw and Decorator outlets.

Power Strip Covers

The increasing number of home offices and convenience appliances has brought about the added use of power strips. A power strip cover encloses many types of plugs such as those from computers, answering machines, kitchen appliances and power tools. You’ll also be able to enclose most transformers and heavy-duty, three-pronged plugs to keep them out of your tot’s reach.

Night Light/Outlet Cover

This product attaches to the outlet plate and combines a night light along with a cover for one of the electrical receptacles. The night light covers the top receptacle and a self-closing cover blocks access to the bottom receptacle.

Cord Organizers

Since electrical cords can be a real nuisance, and a real safety hazard, a variety of products can be purchased to help you "clean up the clutter." One option is a plastic tube that houses a group of wires. This is ideal for the TV, VCR and speaker wires. Another option is a product which encloses wires and then mounts with double-sided adhesive onto baseboards, walls or ceilings. Couplings and elbows allow you to conceal cords around corners. This product also works well for speaker wires, and is ideal for lamp wires and extension cords.

FEATURES TO LOOK FOR WHEN SELECTING ELECTRICAL SAFETY PRODUCTS

   Sturdy, reliable construction and proper fit. Select products which are well-made and durable. Look for a snug, secure fit for products that will be removed and replaced continually, and heavy-duty construction so they'll stand up to your child's consistent efforts to remove or open them.

   Automatic protection. These products have an automatic closing and are considered safer than those which may be locked manually.

   Reliable locking device. If it's supposed to lock automatically, check for smooth, consistent operation.

   Ease of use. Certain styles are better suited for more frequent use. Others are suitable for limited use.

   Products older children can operate. Consider whether it's important for older siblings to be able to use the items you select.

  Ease of installation. Although similar in style some products install quickly and easily, while others may require considerable adjustments.

The information given and the products referred to can reduce the likeliness of injury and are intended to help you provide a safer environment for your child. The effectiveness of suggested products depends on proper installation and use. There is no replacement for adult supervision.    

 

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