Your toddler is playing on the floor of the living room while you prep dinner in the kitchen. He tirelessly constructs wooden block tower after wooden block tower, only to knock each one down in squeals of delight.
“Five minutes until dinner will be ready!” you call to him as you end down to put your dirty cutting board into the dishwasher.
Instead of hearing your sweet boy say, “otay, Mommy!” you hear a sound every parent fears: a heart-wrenching scream.
As you rush into the living room to grab your boy, you see the plastic plug cover from the nearby electrical outlet sitting on the floor. Your son is screaming and showing you his blistered fingers, and you immediately realize that it’ll take more than a kiss to make this boo-boo better.
You pull out your phone and call 9-1-1-…
Each year, more than 2,000 children are burned or shocked by electrical outlets when they stick something into the outlet that doesn’t belong there. Sometimes it’s the child’s own finger and other times it’s a foreign object like a bobby pin or a coin, but the results are the same: burns, shocks, and even electrocution.
An Inexpensive Way to Improve Home Electrical Safety
Tamper resistant electrical receptacles are an inexpensive way to significantly reduce the chance that electrical outlets in your family’s home will injure your son or daughter. You can upgrade receptacles for about $2 each — that’s only $0.50 or so more per outlet than the cost of a traditional power outlet.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the average home has approximately 75 electric receptacles. That means that it only costs about $40 more to upgrade to tamper resistant outlets than it does to put in new outlets that aren’t tamper resistant (source).
If your home was built or renovated since 2014, it should already have tamper resistant outlets installed as required by the National Electrical Code®(NEC®). If your home was built or renovated before 2014, though, your Missouri Electric Cooperatives encourage you to upgrade your home’s electrical outlets (with the help of a licensed electrician) to tamper resistant ones.
How Tamper Resistant Receptacles Work
Tamper resistant receptacles are easy to use, and they look perfectly normal in your home. According to Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFi), tamper resistant receptacles, “look just like ordinary outlets, but are designed with spring-loaded receptacle cover plates that close off the receptacle openings, or slots.”
In order for power to pass through the outlet, those cover plates must be open. And those cover plates won’t open unless equal pressure is applied into both prong holes of the outlet.
“Without this simultaneous pressure,” ESFi explains, “the cover plate remain closed, preventing insertion of foreign objects (source).”
Spring-loaded cover plates might sound strong — like you’d need to use extra pressure or force to plug in a standard electrical plug. Thankfully, though, that’s not the case. The NFPA says that tamper resistant receptacles require comparable force to use as regular receptacles do.
Tamper resistant receptacles are just one easy and inexpensive way that you can help keep your kids safe from electric shock. You can learn more about tamper resistant electrical outlets on ESFi.org, and you can find more helpful electric safety tips right here on the blog.
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