Your Child and Electricity – How to Keep Them Separated

Nothing is cuter than the first day your child goes mobile. Slowly they begin crawling across the floor. With all newbies there are fits and starts but eventually they have it down and scoot from one end of the house to the other. And what catches their attention, outside of the cat’s tail, are the electrical receptacles lining the bottom of every wall. Like moths to flames they speed to the rectangles as if inside is a cache of mashed peas. Parents react accordingly, first with screams and second with a trip to the big box hardware store for a couple gross of outlet covers.

Now imagine that baby at 15, saddle them with a love of climbing and place a power pole in their vicinity… good luck. Parents can’t be everywhere. But if they do a good job advising their children about the dangers of electricity their words will be there where they can’t.

Six Simple Tips Regarding Children and Electricity

Their lack of mobility is a plus but communicating with a toddler isn’t easy. They smile and pull at your nose but the more you talk to them the more they pull at your nose. But the good point is there’s little they can reach.

Teens on the other hand are as independent and deaf as a toddler to any and all advice but have a better reach and more dangerous toys.

How do you handle too dissimilar and disinterested groups? You treat them the same.

1.) Talk to your kids

Their attention spans notwithstanding, if corrected repeatedly they'll lose interest in pushing forks into nearby outlets or yanking the cords out from six feet away.

At almost every step, talking with your kids is the best way to protect them from danger. It will take some time to get things across to any of the age groups, especially those at either end, but repeated correction works.

2.) Outlets

They aren’t expensive nor are they hard to install but outlet covers or caps will stop most toddlers in their tracks. These can be installed before the baby is born.

Teaching older kids the correct way to plug and unplug power cords is necessary to their safety - the house's safety, too.

3.) Bathroom

Babies and toddlers love water. They spend hours in the bathtub. Parents need to keep any electrical appliances from the bath. In the bathroom this includes things like hairdryers, electric shavers and curling irons. Smaller babies are sometimes bathed in the kitchen. Watch out for electric can openers and other small appliances; anything within reach.

Older kids who often have all manner of electric hair tools, must be aware that an item plugged into the wall should not be handled in the shower, set near the shower or used until the child is dry. And the sink is not a good resting place for a live curling iron.

4.) Cords

Place cords as far from little eyes and hands as you can. And cords are not food. Little children believe most anything is a Snickers Bar; teaching them that biting an electric cord is worse than a jalapeno pepper is the smart thing to do.

Many toys for older children use electricity. And they should know how to plug or unplug a cord the correct way even if it means a testy moment of retraining. Parents should also make sure that their children understand that frayed cords need to be replaced, that cords should not be hidden under rugs and that receptacles not be overloaded.

It should surprise no one to see multiple extension cords snaking across an older child's carpet. If they need extension cords for more than a day it's time to call the friendly electrician and have them add another receptacle.

5.) Storms

Watch the weather. Children don’t understand the many precautions taken during electrical storms. Parents must teach, but more importantly parents must lead. Younger children may be unaware of the danger - doesn't know enough to get out of the rain. Teaching them to come inside, stay away from the windows and not use electrical appliances is important.

Teens are rarely in a parent's sight line. But the same rules apply to them, along with keeping them off the phone. However, when they aren't nearby they should know to get inside. If they can't get inside a car will do or getting to a low spot, like a ditch, might keep them safe. They should be told to stay away from metal and not to crouch under a tree, which is one of the most likely spots to get struck.

6.) Appliances

– Younger kids rarely are able to reach appliances, let alone operate them. But older children want to use appliances. They want to use the microwave, the toaster, the toaster oven and the oven. Make sure that the older child is taught how to operate each appliance safely. Watch the child operate them before allowing them to solo. Certainly many general safety concerns about outlets and cords work for appliances, too.

The major area of concern with cooking appliances is heat, especially the toaster and toaster ovens. Toasters and toaster ovens use a heating element that takes the electricity and slows it down, forcing the electricity to become heat which makes the elements glow. As you can imagine these are hot to touch. But what children and older children may not realize is they're a source for a shock. Reaching into toasters or toaster ovens with a metal object and touching the element will pass electricity from the element through the metal object (knife or fork) and into the person’s arm… ouch.

Microwaves and metal objects = fireworks… not the good kind.

Teaching children is a neverending exercise. Making them aware of the dangers of electricity will allow them to enjoy the power of electricity, too.

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