Most parents will make sure their children never touch the stove until they can show them the right way to use it. Nor will they let a youngster pick up power tools until they’re old enough to operate them safely. But many parents don’t think twice about letting children use household electrical equipment, although that can be every bit as dangerous, cautions Indiana Electric Cooperatives.
Even the simple act of plugging in or unplugging an electrical cord carries the potential of electric shock. If a child inadvertently touches the metal parts of a plug, his or her fingers could complete a short circuit that would cause a painful shock at the very least. A more serious shock could cause burns or other injury, electrocution, as well as damage to the home.
Electricity has been a part of our lives for so long that most of us don’t give it any thought. Many times a very casual approach is taken when using electricity. We don’t think twice about letting a preschooler plug in a game system or similar toy into an outlet. However, this approach can be dangerous and even deadly.
The most important lesson you can teach your kids is to respect electricity. You don’t have to frighten them. It’s just a matter of explaining that using it the wrong way might hurt them, so you want them to know the right way. Although children may not be old enough to understand the finer points of circuit breakers and ground-fault circuit interrupters, they can learn basic advice, such as:
- Electricity is not a toy, so they shouldn’t play with it.
- Never use any electrical devices or unplug anything from the wall without Mom and Dad’s permission.
- When you unplug an electrical cord, do not tug on the cord. Instead, use your fingers to pull the plug out of the outlet.
- Never use anything electrical by the sink, bathtub, pool, or other wet area. That includes hair dryers.
- Make sure your hands are completely dry when handling electrical equipment.
- If something powered by electricity falls into the sink or bathtub, do not try to remove it.
- Never put electric cords under carpets, rugs, or furniture legs.
- Never play with electric outlets or plug anything beside electrical cords into them.
- If you have a three-pronged plug, do not try to plug it into a two-pronged outlet, and do not remove the third (grounding) prong. Using the wrong kind of plug in the outlet creates a shock hazard and could damage the equipment. Three-prong-to-two-prong adapters are available at any hardware store.
Electricity is a powerful tool. It can also be a lethal hazard. Informing your children about electrical safety can reduce hazards that cause deaths, injuries and property damage. If you have small children, be sure you place childproof covers in all of the unused power outlets. This will prevent them from being able to insert objects into the outlets, so they won’t shock themselves.
SOURCES: Oncor (Texas), Western Massachusetts Electric.