Modern Melbourne homes have all mod cons – the latest wide screen TVs, stereos, computers, kitchen appliances, heaters, air conditioners, washers and dryers, clock radios, phone chargers, electric shavers, hair dryers, hair curlers… the list goes on and on. All of them are powered by electricity and all of them are a definite worry if you have babies and toddlers, because young inquisitive minds + tiny probing fingers + electricity are an accident just waiting to happen. If you’re worried about electrical safety for toddlers, a full Electrical Safety Inspection by a qualified Home Electrician is important in identifying potential electrical hazards in your home. With this in mind, Hit The Switch would like to present these practical tips on keeping your young ones safe and sound.
Baby Proofing Power Points
Powerpoints are a key concern for electrical safety for toddlers and babies. Perhaps because power points are low to the ground (at their eye level) or maybe because they see you plugging things in and want to follow suit, or even because they look like itty bitty faces, all babies just love power points. The last thing you want is for a baby or toddler to start “feeding” the power point “mouth” with metal safety pins, coins, keys etc. A safety switch should cut off the power in a fraction of a second before it does any damage, but even so would you risk your child suffering a severe shock or being burnt when the answer could be as simple as installing tight-fitting child-resistant power point covers? A pack of 24 of these can be bought for around $4, and because the exposed front is flat and hard to grip, they are a good deterrent PROVIDED:
- you remember to replace them EVERY time after using the power point,
- you take them with you on holiday and when visiting friends and relatives, and
- there isn’t a problem with your home’s wiring or the power point itself.
If the power point is old, cracked or was poorly installed, it could overheat and cause the plastic cover to melt and eventually catch fire. A better alternative would be Shutter Power Points which are only active once an appliance is plugged in. If inquisitive little fingers do happen to find their way to the outside of the power point, a spring-loaded plastic shield will block their entrance. As all three shutters need to be pushed in at the same time (as a plug would) they should out-smart even the cleverest toddler.
LED Lights – a safer option for baby
All babies and toddlers are attracted by bright lights, but unless they’ve been burnt before, they have zero concept of heat and how it can hurt tiny fingers.
Traditional light globes, particularly those in coffee table lamps and bedside lights, can get very hot if left on for any length of time. And the last thing you want is for your infant to touch a hot light. Ouch!
LED lighting, on the other hand, are perfectly safe to touch…even if they have been burning for hours. They produce very little heat – if any – and are cool to the touch…unlike traditional bulbs that can get so hot, they can actually start fires. They are safer on two other counts too. A solid state LED lighting features a small chip embedded in an epoxy resin housing, and unlike conventional bulbs – either incandescent or fluorescent – they have no fragile elements such as glass or filaments than can be smashed and present a cutting or choking hazard. Furthermore, they have no traces of mercury or other toxins such as those found in fluoros, making LEDs the perfect choice for nurseries.
Preventing toddlers from yanking out power cords.
Pulling out power cords by the cable rather than the plug itself can damage the cord, which can lead to fire and electrocution. But try telling that to a 10-month old!
The easiest – and cheapest – way to prevent this happening is to move furniture in front of the outlet, but if you’re worried about how this will make the room look, there are other alternatives. You can buy power point covers that sit over the top of your outlet that make it impossible for a small child to pull the lead straight out.
Similarly, you can buy strip covers for power boards, however if you want a cheap way to make it difficult for a youngster to tug the cords out…try using electrical tape to bundle all the cords together.
Child-proofing extension cords.
Extension cords and toddlers aren’t a good mix for several reasons.
- Teething babies will chew on everything, and the last thing you want in their mouth is a cord carrying 240volts!
- If pulled, they can send an electrical appliance such as a radio, toaster or computer crashing down on an unsuspecting young head.
- Like power points themselves, babies can poke metal things into open extension cord ends, posing a real risk of electric shock.
- They can also be a trip hazard for bub (if he or she is walking) as well as for you.
To remedy this:
- use shorter extension cords
- roll them up and put them away when not in use
- keep them up high out of baby’s reach
- tape the cords securely to the floor,
- or at least ensure that both the ends are joined to each other.
Even better would be to do away with the need for extension cords all together – by getting your favourite Home Electrician (!) to install extra power points wherever you need them.
The ultimate Tip for Electrical Safety for Toddlers and Babies? Install Safety Switches & Smoke Alarms.
As you’ll read in this previous blog “Your Safety Switch Keeps Tripping? Great!”, no Melbourne home should be without safety switches.Safety switches are especially paramount for ensuring electrical safety for toddlers.
A Safety Switch (technically a Residual Current Device or RCD) is designed to let you know whenever there’s a potential problem…and the biggest problem of all of course is electrocution, especially if you have babies and toddlers!
For the technically minded, when a safety switch detects an imbalance between amps in the energised conductor and neutral conductor, with electricity leaking to earth, it ‘trips’ before any damage can be done.
As a parent, they will help you sleep more soundly (well, until the 3am feed that is!)
As for Smoke Alarms (also called Smoke Detectors), here’s an excerpt from our webpage entitled Smoke Alarm Installation Gives You Peace of Mind: “Installing smoke alarms saves lives. It’s that simple. But smoke alarms are only of benefit if they are installed properly, well maintained, and you get the right smoke alarm for the job in the first place. Many people aren’t aware that when you sleep, you lose your sense of smell, so you will not be woken by the presence of smoke. This is why smoke alarms are so important. At night when your family is sleeping, they are the only reliable indication you have that there is a fire in your home.”
If you haven’t got smoke alarms in every room of the house, definitely get them. And if you don’t test them regularly – every month or so – start doing so. In fact, mark it in your diary or on your calendar. For more information and advice about electrical safety for toddlers & babies, please feel free to call Hit The Switch on 1300 205 205, or simply click here to contact us.