As a parent there is nothing more dear to my heart than my children. Their safety and security is something that is constantly on my mind. As a parent, I want to protect them from harm. I teach them about stranger danger, bullying and the impact that media and outside influences have on their perceptions of the world around them. Yet moreover, as an electrician, I have a deep understanding of the potential hazards that lay in wait that most, especially a young child, don’t have when it comes to electricity. In the United States, injury is the leading cause of death among children and nearly half occur in the home. So I feel it is my duty, as a parent to educate my children about these potential hazards and make my home as child friendly as possible.

Secure power chords from a child's reach

Power cords are one of the most underestimated electrical hazards we have in our homes. And if you have teens and preteens in your home like I do, then you know how popular gaming consoles and portable computers are. It is estimated that about 4,000 injuries each year are associated with power cords. Believe it or not, 50% of these injuries involve fractures while only 5% are electrical burns. So, it is important that all power cords be tucked away as neatly as possible and whenever a cord is in an area with foot traffic be sure to use power cord covers.

Teach children to not stick things in power outlets

Young children see everything we do. They learn by example if you will. One of the things our children see us do over and over is plug devices into power outlets. It is important that we teach our children to not stick anything into a power outlet. Express to the child that if they do they could get hurt. On that same note, it is equally important to teach children of all ages to not pull out a power cord by the cord. It is possible that by doing this, it could tear the outer coating of the wire and live wires would be exposed and dangerous. As a parent we should go through our home and install plug protectors to further prevent any tampering by little fingers.

Protect children by adding GFCI outlets

In kitchens and in bathrooms there are outlets available for the use of countertop appliances such as toasters and hair dryers. The National Electrical Code has rules in place that state that there should be a GFCI receptacle within 6 feet of any source of water. While this is a great idea, not all homes have GFCI receptacles installed. Therefore you should teach your children that electricity and water do not mix. Electricity flows easily through water, and it will travel through your body which is made 70% of water. Furthermore, if you do not have GFCI receptacles in place, contact a local licensed electrician to do so.

Teach children that pets shouldn't chew on electrical chords

If you have a household with children then it is likely you have a house pet as well. Teach your children to not allow animals to chew on power cords for obvious reasons. But if you child does catch your animal chewing on a cord, teach them to inform you of the situation and go to the cord, disconnect it, and inspect the cord, insuring that the outer insulation was not compromised. If so, simply putting electrical tape over the cord is not the solution. The cord must be replaced. Remember, these children see everything we do, and simply putting a “band aid” on an electrical hazard does nothing more that create a potential injury down the line.

Teach your kids that adults change light bulbs

One of the necessary tasks around your home is the changing of light bulbs. I’m sure that many people, throughout their lives have attempted to remove a broken light bulb from a socket. I hope that as an adult you understand that you should insure that the light switch is off and never stick anything metal such as a pair of pliers in a socket to remove a broken bulb.  While most light fixtures are located high on a ceiling, there are fixtures around our home that are easily reached by our children such as lamps and under cabinet lights. It is important that we teach your children to let you know if a light bulb needs to be changed for whatever reason and that if they were to stick their fingers or any object in the socket they could be shocked. Just remember, you were a kid once and threw a ball in the house and broke a light bulb and didn’t want to get in trouble.

Teach your children the hazards of overhead power lines

Kids are kids.These days our children are surrounded by technology and at times it is difficult to pull them away from that console and make them go breathe some fresh air. But it should be encouraged. One outdoor activity that is as old as time is climbing trees. Some parents may discourage their children from climbing in trees due to the risk of falling and getting hurt, which i completely understand. Yet if you are a parent that has no issue with this, please educate your children on the hazards of overhead power lines and discourage them from climbing in any trees where power lines are running through them.

Don't swim during thunderstorms or hazardous weather

Summer is a great time of year. Swimming is a great way for kids to cool off. Beating the heat at your local outdoor swimming pool, lake or river is where memories are made of. As parents we are not always able to join in the fun due to work or other boring adult stuff, therefore it is important that we teach our children that they should not go swimming during extreme cloud cover or rain. Again, electricity flows easily through water and us if we are in it.

Teach children about downed power lines

It is an absolute must that we teach our children to be safe around power lines. If your child witnesses a power line down, tell them to have an adult call 911. Teach them, while it is fun to fly a kite on a windy day, do not do this around power lines and if they witness anyone who has come in contact with a power line, do not touch them. Run and get help.

Teach kids about electrical sub stations

Never climb on the fencing around electric substations. If your child has a pet which has entered one or if they have accidently thrown something over the fence of one, call an adult and the adult will contact the power company and retrieve the pet or object.

Children should know about warning labels

At times there are devices, areas or items with warning labels on them. These labels are there for a reason. Many times these labels not only have the word “WARNING” or “DANGER” on them but a picture depicting a lightning bolt and a person becoming shocked. Children should be taught to respect these labels, it is for their own safety.

Ask an adult before you dig in the dirt

Another favorite outdoor past time that children enjoy doing is to dig in the dirt.  Lets hope your child is just scratching the surface and not performing a major excavation. Either way, teach your children that before they dig in the dirt, they ask you or another adult first. There are rules in place as to how deep an electric line is to be buried, but let’s face it, not everyone follows the rules. If you, as a parent are unsure about the location of underground power lines, contact your local power company for guidance.

Our children are our greatest asset. Let’s allow our kids to be kids, but let’s raise safe, fun loving, well informed kids.

Install GFCI and AFCI Outlets

AFCI, and GFCI circuits, are two different important safety devices serving completely different purposes.  AFCI receptacles and breakers are designed to prevent fires and GFCI receptacles and breakers are designed to prevent electrical shock.

RELATED ARTICLE:

Springtime Home Safety Checklist

  • Confirm all air has been purged at water heater on start-up by testing (manually tripping) temperature and pressure relief valve before energizing water heater.  It is safe to energize once a full stream of water has discharged.
  • Test all GFCI and AFCI circuits (manually trip).
  • Test surge protectors (manually trip).
  • Test motion and dawn to dusk sensors at exterior lighting.