As a parent, you’re constantly worried about your child’s safety. And given their curiosity, even seemingly harmless objects become threats. Electrical outlets are among such objects. The solution? Child safe outlets.
What are child-safe outlets?
These are simple devices that ensure safety from electrical shocks and burns. Child safe outlets are also called tamper-resistant electrical receptacles. Or, TR outlets for short. They come with spring-loaded shields that cover the contact points inside the outlets. When there’s unequal pressure on the shields they lock up, preventing electrical contact.
This covers the basic concept. But we suggest you keep reading. We’ll be exploring child-safe outlets in greater detail along with other possible safety measures.
Let’s dive right in!
What Are Child-Safe Outlets?
A simple and inexpensive yet useful modification of the usual power outlet. Also known as tamper-resistant outlets. These outlets come with the TR marking and go through multiple safety tests.
As the name suggests, the purpose of these outlets is to ensure your child’s safety. These outlets look no different from ordinary outlets. But they have spring-loaded shields that block the outlet’s openings.
Grounded outlets have no cover for the ground slot. This is done to make the outlets usable with both 2 and 3 pronged plugs.
Also if you have grounded outlets you should make sure they’re functioning properly. One bad outlet might affect others.
Child-safe outlets cost only marginally higher than usual outlets. Here are a few that we would suggest.
Installing these outlets is no hassle either. Their installation process is no different from a normal outlet. Replacing your existing outlets with these will be a breeze.
How Do Child Safe Outlets Work?
The spring-loaded safety shield prevents electrical contact preventing the flow of electricity.
In order to access the outlet, equal pressure must be simultaneously applied to both shields. When this is done, the springs behind the protectors compress allowing entry. However, if unequal pressure is applied neither shield will budge.
When your child tries putting something in one slot, there’ll be no pressure on another. And consequently, they’ll be unable to put anything into either slot.
This might create the misconception that TR outlets require extra force. But that isn’t the case. If you do face this problem, your plug prongs might be misaligned. Outlets requiring extra force regardless of prong alignment might have other issues.
Why Use Child Safe Outlets?
About 2400 children suffer electrical shocks and burns every year. And all these occur from tampering with electrical outlets. 6-12 of these end in casualties.
Mere vigilance won’t prevent these accidents. 70% of these accidents occurred in the presence of an adult. In short, making sure your child is safe isn’t easy. As the number of appliances you use increases, so does the risk.
Child safe outlets are, therefore, essential to ensuring safety for your child.
What Are the Alternatives?
You’re not limited to child-safe outlets. If you can’t find TR outlets, you do have a few other options.
These are very similar to TR outlets and somewhat better. They have a spring-loaded cover that prevents access to the slots.
The difference lies in the execution. Instead of the slots being covered individually, the entire outlet is covered. A single cover blocks the slots when there’s nothing plugged in. As soon as the plug is removed the cover snaps back.
In order to insert a plug, you must pull back the cover. And the springs are too strong for children to pull it open. All of this together makes it impossible for children to access the outlet slots.
Plastic Outlet Covers
Inexpensive plastic covers sold in bulk are a faster and cheaper alternative. Instead of some intricate spring-loaded mechanism, these simply plug up the slots.
You insert the plastic covers into the outlet. This blocks the access points, preventing your kids from putting anything in. When you need to use the outlet, take the cover out and stick in your plug.
This, however, is far from a perfect solution. The plastic covers are simply held in by friction. And your child could easily learn to pull them out.
These present a more permanent solution. They sit over the outlet and block access to it. There’s a caveat though.
The outlet boxes are designed to protect outlets from elements of the weather. Say there’s a gas leak, the box will keep that away from the outlet. Continuing with the example, another point you need to keep in mind is the distance between the gas and electricity.
Outlet boxes will keep sparks at the sockets from combusting the gas. But an electric circuit too close to the gas line will pose a significant risk.
Despite the additional safety provided, most outlet boxes won’t be a perfect solution. These devices aren’t held onto the wall with strong adhesion. It’s easy to pull them right off the outlets.
If no other option is available to you, cover the outlet with tape. Use duct tape to cover the outlets. This won’t completely prevent them from sticking something in the outlet. But it’ll provide you with enough time to get them away from it.
Be sure to use this only as a last-ditch effort. A strong tape might keep them from accessing the slot for a while. But any sharp object will rip right through the tape.
That covers every way in which you can keep your child safe from electrical accidents.
Question: Can child-safe outlets break?
Answer: Yes. Like any other mechanical device, it is prone to breakage. If the outlet is tampered with, with enough force the shields might break.
Question: Won’t plastic covers damage the socket?
Answer: No. The plastic covers are designed to sit snugly in the sockets. They won’t damage the slots or the contact points inside the outlet.
Question: Can I use multiple methods in conjunction?
Answer: We would advise against that. Say you have TR outlets and use plastic covers too. The covers will negate the built-in safety measures of the outlets. They might also damage the shields.
Child safe outlets are an important safety measure. Once you’ve installed these replacements you won’t need to constantly stay vigilant.
If you can’t find child-safe or TR outlets, use one of the alternatives.
Stay with us for more ways to make your home safer, prettier, and more efficient.
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