Thursday, June 21, 2012
Teaching Kids about Electrical Safety at Home
Practise what you preach – teach kids plugging too many plugs into one socket is dangerous, and then don’t buy plug extenders! Image via Tolomea
It’s estimated that there are close to 3000 accidents at home resulting from electric current every year in the UK, and unfortunately almost a quarter of these accidents happen to children under the age of 15.
Not all of these accidents were fatal, but some were. Even if an electrical accident doesn’t kill you, it can still cause a serious and sometimes life-changing injury, or cause a secondary risk such as a fire.
Children, especially young ones, are often unaware or unable to comprehend these risks, so it’s important that as their parent or carer you take the necessary precautions to keep them safe.
Here are my top tips on teaching kids about electrical safety:
First and foremost, you may need to explain to your child just what electricity is!
Young children have no concept of things they can’t see, so it may be useful to take them to an exhibition or museum where they can see static electricity in action, and explain that the electricity at home is the same but ‘invisible’ and can be dangerous.
Static electricity shows can be a great way to help young kids visualise electricity. Image via Ericskiff
Most electrical sockets nowadays are fitted with safety catches to cut off the flow from the earth wire if little fingers go prying around inside, but older ones aren’t, and even if your sockets are brand new, is it really worth the risk?
Teach children that nothing – fingers, toys... – must ever be put into the sockets on the walls.
Young children in particular love to do what they’ve been forbidden to do, so it’s also a good idea to invest in some high-quality socket covers that only an adult can pry off. Yes, it’s annoying having to take them in and out every time you want to vacuum or iron, but you cannot put a price on the safety of your child.
The same goes for appliances – teach your children the dangers of putting a knife in the toaster, or touching the back of the TV.
If you’re guilty of these things yourself, make sure your child never sees. Kids learn by imitation and he or she might not have noticed that you only put the knife into the toaster to get your stuck toast when it was switched off!
Remember to teach kids about the dangers of mixing electricity and water. Explain that electricity can travel through the water and hurt them, even if they’re not touching the appliance!
Show them that there are no sockets in the bathroom for this reason, and explain that anything that’s plugged in must be kept well away from bath tubs and sinks. Even electric power showers can be dangerous if faulty so ask them to tell you immediately if they notice something broken.
Teach young kids to recognise danger signs. Image via Jonny2Love
Electrical safety extends further than just the home. Show your child a “Danger High Voltage” alert, electrical warning signs and even just what a transformer looks like (as unfortunately they don’t all have signs!) and explain that they must keep well away from power lines, transformers and other electrical equipment they may come across outdoors.
Don’t let children fly a kite near power lines, or climb nearby trees. Again, explain that electricity can travel through the kite string to them, and that electricity can jump so the kite doesn’t even need to touch the wires to be dangerous.
Teaching your children about electrical safety can save their life – but don’t rely on them understanding or behaving! Kids are notoriously contrary, so take the necessary precautions yourself too such as installing socket covers and fixing faulty wires the moment you spot them.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry!