Every parent knows how inquisitive children can be. You only have to turn your back for a moment, and they’ve wreaked domestic havoc on their adventures through home and garden. Things like plug sockets, wires and appliances are an unending source of fascination for little ones.
So it’s vital you take measures to protect curious children from shocks and burns around the house. The same goes for wandering pets, who don’t know any better than to try nibbling on a cable.
How to ensure your children’s safety in the home
1. Are plug sockets dangerous for children? - Despite all those warnings you heard as a child and are undoubtedly passing on to your little ones – plug sockets actually present very little risk to children. They’re designed so that it’s almost impossible for your child to stick their fingers in, no matter how small they might be! That said, it’s important to teach them from an early age that plug sockets are not to be fiddled with.
2. Are socket covers reliable? - A study from the Electrical Safety Council (ESC) found that electrical safety is a huge concern for parents (and rightly so!) In fact, 62% of new parents use socket covers in their homes. But socket covers won’t prevent an electric shock if the installation isn’t safe. Only an RCD in the fuse box will prevent fatal electric shocks and reduce the risk of electrical fires.
3. Making electrical cables child-safe - The easiest way to discourage children from investigating wires and sockets is to use your furniture to block access, although this isn’t always feasible. Electrical socket covers that sit on top of your existing outlet are another good idea. They’re easy for an adult to remove but will stop little hands from pulling plugs out of the wall. Make sure wires are tacked securely against skirting boards or door frames (to stop trip hazards, as well as curious chewing), and use power bars if you need more sockets.
4. How do I make appliances child-safe? - Switch off appliances when they’re not in use and keep cables out of reach. A mobile phone cable without the phone attached is a pure temptation for little hands and mouths. Remember, children are fascinated with the things that mum and dad do every day – such as straightening their hair or making a cup of tea – so keep heated appliances out of sight as well.
5. Minimise the risk of water - Mixing water and electricity can be fatal – so make sure your kids are dried off thoroughly after a bath before they go anywhere near electrical devices. Keep drinks away from appliances, too. An accidental juice spill could easily result in a frazzled laptop – or worse, a serious injury.
How can you ensure electrical safety at home? Basic checks for electrical safety:
Get into the habit of carrying out regular basic safety checks. You needn’t be an electrician to do this. Look for frayed or damaged wires and scorched or broken sockets. Also, look out for cables – are they a trip hazard, or in danger of getting damaged? Are they near water, or by an appliance that gives off heat? Could little hands (or paws!) interfere with them?
Electrical home safety checklist
Here’s a quick checklist to summarise all we’ve learned here:
· Water and electricity don’t mix! Keep them well apart
· Check for damaged wires and cables
· Keep cables and wires properly stored, and away from children
· Unplug devices and appliances to repair, adjust or clean
· Don’t overload plug sockets
· Allow air to circulate around electric appliances – don’t block vents
· Keep appliances clean and free from debris
· Use Residual Current Devices around the home
· Always ask a registered electrician to install appliances
· Avoid knock-off electrical items
· Check fuses and wattage
· Be careful where you plug in electric heaters
· Always read the instructions before operating an electrical appliance
Register your products
One extra, super-important piece of advice is to register all the products you buy with the manufacturer. This is essential for warranty purposes – but it also helps with product recall alerts.
Products such as chargers, adaptors, hair-care appliances, kettles, irons and toasters are recalled more regularly than you think. But only 10 - 20% of products are returned. If you register your products, your manufacturer will let you know if the product you’ve bought turns out to be faulty or dangerous. You can find a great database at Electrical Safety First.