No one has figured it out yet but there’s something about electrical cords and sockets that attracts babies towards them.
Whenever a toddler sees loose cords lying around, he is bound to crawl or walk towards it and try to fiddle with it. The same goes for an electric socket within the reach of the toddler.
If you’re anything like me, you’d ensure that you have safely baby-proofed all the cords and electrical outlets within the reach of your child. One doesn’t need to be an expert in electrical studies to understand the implications of exposing a toddler to live wires or open sockets.
Baby-proofing electrical cords and outlets do not require any complicated apparatus or techniques. With the help of a few readily available products and materials, you can ensure you have successfully baby proofed or childproofed the cords and the outlets.
Before we dive into the ways to babyproof the electrical cords and outlets, let us look at some statistics of the injuries caused to toddlers because of inserting metal objects into electrical outlets.
Statistics of Electrocution of Toddlers at Home
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, for toddlers, the main cause of electrical injuries are electrical outlets, cords and extension cords. While electrical cords and extension cords account for as much as 60% of the injuries, electrical outlets account for around 15% of the electrical injuries. 86% of the electrical injuries take place in the age group 1-4.
Approximately, as many as 3900 electrical accidents are reported annually according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. One-third of the electrical injuries arise when toddlers stick in metal objects into open electrical sockets.
Baby Proofing Electrical Cords
Even though electric cords attached to devices come with an outer insulated covering, there are other ways in which they can pose risks to the toddlers.
Your toddler can trip over a cord lying on the floor. He can pull an electric device and bring it crashing to the floor if the cord is hung loosely. Or worse, if the insulation covering has worn out, exposing the wire beneath, it can pose a risk of an electric shock.
Most of the time, we do not think of baby proofing electrical cords. We assume since they are insulated and covered with a protective layer, they do not pose any risk to the toddler or even the device. But in fact, baby proofing electric cords in this day and age of electric and electronic devices has become more important than ever.
Let us now look at some ways we can baby proof electric cords in our homes.
Baby proofing the electrical cords is done not only to protect the toddler from any harm but also to protect the device from damage.
Using a Cord Shortener
One of the risks posed by long wires is that they can be an invitation for your toddler to pull at them and bring the attached device crashing down on the floor. Or your toddler can tug at the cord and yank the plug out of the socket thereby damaging the cord.
One way to tackle this is by using a cord shortener. The cord shortener can be a simple cord shortener which involves wrapping the cord around a frame. Or it can be a multi-layered cord shortener wherein you wrap the cord around a frame and then enclose it with a cover for extra protection. Check out the video below for a better understanding of the cord shortener.
Use Cord Covers or Cord Protectors
There can be instances when it is just not possible to use a cord shortener. You might have to connect your oven and the nearest socket is across the kitchen. This can result in the cord being exposed on the floor or on the nearby kitchen platform.
In such cases when the cord is exposed on the floor and you can do nothing about it, it is best to use a cord protector or a cover. These protectors are fitted on the exposed section of the cord and have smooth edges.
So in case your toddler walks into the kitchen and approaches the exposed cord, the risk of tripping over the cord on the floor would be greatly reduced because of the cord cover. In fact, it can be an effective way of preventing accidents even for the elderly in the kitchen.
Avoid Using extension chords
If you want to use an electrical appliance at your place of convenience which might not be close to the socket, you might be using an extension cord. In a house without toddlers, using an extension cord won’t pose a problem. You can use it for your convenience without the risk of a toddler tripping over it.
However, if you have children below 6 in your house, there is a risk of them tripping over the stray cord. Little children are full of energy and always running around the house. You can warn them how much ever you want, but sometime or the other, they are bound to trip over an extension cord.
It is, therefore, a better idea to fix a new electrical socket near the electrical device instead of using an extension cord attached to the existing socket.
Use a Zip Tie for Extra Long Cords
Sometimes the electrical cords are just too long and can pose a risk of tripping for the toddlers in the house. Kids can also yank at the cords just for fun which can bring the electrical appliance crashing down on the floor.
A very effective way to prevent this from happening is to use zip ties. Roll or fold the cord as per the length you are comfortable with and then use the zip tie for keeping it folded. Zip ties cost very less and can be a very effective way of childproofing extra long cords.
Babyproofing Electrical Outlets
Babyproofing electrical sockets can be considered as one of the most important steps of babyproofing your home. Toddlers are drawn towards open outlets as they consider it a novelty to stick tiny objects into them. The most common objects include hairpins, keys and sometimes even cutlery. Or they can simply insert their fingers into them. If the switch is in an ON position, inserting these objects into the socket can be hazardous, as the human body is a good conductor of electricity.
Most of the houses built after 2010 have tamper-resistant electrical outlets, also known as tamper-resistant receptacles (TRR). If you live in such a house, you need not worry much. These receptacles are made with the special purpose of preventing child injury. Read more about them and their working here.
However, if you live in a house with the old fashioned electrical outlets, here are some babyproofing ideas for you to look into.
Use box covers
Box covers are hard plastic covers that can be fixed over the electrical outlets. They are so designed that they can be fixed whether there is a cord attached to the outlet or not. However, due to their bigger size, they are mainly used when the electrical outlet is occupied and you want to prevent your toddler from pulling out the plug. Although these are mostly used as weatherproof outlet covers for outdoor outlets, they can come in handy indoors as well.
Sliding Plate Covers
The most effective way to babyproof the electrical outlets is to use a sliding plate cover. The outlet closes with a plate that slides over whenever the plug is pulled out. And when you want to insert the plug back, you slide back the plate cover with your hand to expose the outlet. This sliding cover is pretty tight and it will not be easy for your toddler to pull it back to expose the outlet.
However, in order to use the sliding plate cover, you have to remove the existing outlet cover and install the sliding plate. So if you have a lot of electrical outlets within a toddler’s reach in your house, it can be quite a task trying to fit each of them with the sliding plate cover.
Sockets at a height
Finally, one way to keep electrical outlets out of the reach of children is to have them at a height where the child won’t be able to reach them. Whenever it is possible, have the electrical outlets at a height.
Electrical safety is one of the most important aspects of babyproofing your home. As we had seen in the statistics above, a sizeable toddler population is affected by accidents arising due to electrical mishaps. It is the responsibility of parents to ensure that their home is absolutely safe for their toddlers.