Whether you have your own children or have children visit or stay in your home often, you need to consider how safe your home is for little ones. One of the greatest risks in any home is electrical outlets. They are located throughout every room, at the ideal height to attract little children. While older kids are taught to keep away from outlets, small children including babies can easily reach the outlets and cause serious harm to themselves. Here we offer easy tips to help childproof electrical outlets in your home.
Tape Over Outlets
This is not an ideal solution, but it will do the trick in a pinch. Whether you are waiting to schedule a more permanent solution, or have unexpected guests with kids coming to visit, you can cover any unused outlets with masking tape. The friendly little face of the outlet will be hidden so kids won’t be drawn to the outlets, while also covering the slots so tiny hands can’t access them.
Tamper Resistant Receptacles (TRRs)
New and remodeled homes are mandated to install TRRs to prevent shock from electrical outlets, but this law did not come into place until 2008. That leaves the majority of homes with unsafe outlets that can harm children. TTRs use spring-loaded shutters so when the slots are exposed, they are closed off.
They allow plugs to be easily inserted due to the springs which compress when the metal prongs are present. If only one spring is activated, an electrical circuit can’t be activated. As a result, a small child who might decide to insert something into one of the slots will avoid shock. Replacing your older outlets with TRRs is the safest way to avoid shocks. They also offer other benefits and features including:
- Optional USB ports for high-speed charging of devices
- Automatic LED guide lights to make it easier to plug something in when it’s dark
- Ground fault circuit interrupter GFCI functionality to further decrease the risk for shock
Individual Outlet Covers
This is a low-cost solution that does a very good job at preventing shocks. The plastic covers are available at home improvement centers and hardware stores. The covers have two prongs on one side and a flat plastic surface on the other. You simply insert them into your unused outlets to shut them off. Because they are plastic, you won’t get a shock when you insert them. They are unobtrusive and the ideal DIY solution as they don’t require electrical work. Only use the outlet covers if they have a firm fit, or they can pose risk for choking. When you need to use the outlet, you just remove the cover. Nothing could be simpler.
Full Outlet Covers
Snap-on full outlet covers fit over the entire plate without the need for tools. You just pop it over both outlets so the entire plate is covered. If you rarely use the outlets, you can even paint them to match the walls for a seamless look. When you need the outlet, they pop right off – no tools required.
Locking Fit Outlet Covers
These work much like individual outlet covers, but with one difference – they lock. There are two options. The first option remains in the locked position and can only be removed by pressing both sides of the cover simultaneously to release it. The only downside is they are not very attractive. You can also buy outlet covers that actually lock and can only be removed with a key, but these tend to be a source of frustration if you need the outlet and can’t find the key.
Sliding Cover Plates
Last but not least are sliding cover plates. They are another DIY solution providing a replacement plate for your outlet. You remove the old plate and then place the shifting cover plate on top. They sit slightly off to the side of the receptacle so you can’t plug anything into the slots. When you need to use the outlet, you simply move the plate to the side to align the slots with the cover plate slots. The plate uses a spring-loaded cover so when the plug is removed it automatically slides back to block the slots.
When you want to put safety first, get in touch with the team at DNA Electric to help childproof electrical outlets in your home.