If there’s one thing kids seem to love, it’s playing with everything around the house other than their toys—the more dangerous the better! Electrical outlets in particular are an endless source of fascination for young children, and according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, hospitals across the country treat nearly seven children for electric shock and burn injuries related to tampering with wall outlets each day. But buying childproofing devices for your electrical outlets can be a challenge, and if you don’t choose carefully they may not fit in your outlets or may be too easy for your child to pull out. So how do you choose?
Figure Out What Type of Outlets You Have
There are two types of outlets commonly seen in homes—standard and decorator outlets. You can tell them apart by looking at the number of screws they have:
- Decorator outlets have two screws, one on the top of the plate and one at the bottom
- Standard outlets are held up by a single screw, located in the middle of the plate
Different types of outlets have different requirements for childproofing materials, so figuring out which type you have is very important. Note that standard outlets will be able to use most childproofing methods—decorator outlets are a little more complicated, but the packages on the items you buy should list whether they are compatible. Remember that most items approved for decorator outlets will not work in standard outlets, and vice-versa, so choose carefully!
Outlet covers, which usually plug right into the outlet, are a good choice for outlets that have “fixed” items that are plugged in all the time, such as lamps or televisions, as well as areas that use large adapters like at the computer. Outlet covers are effective at keeping both infants and toddlers out of the outlets, which means they’ll last for a number of years. Outlet covers for both standard and decorator outlets can be purchased.
Unlike outlet covers, safety outlet plates replace your existing outlet plates and have a small sliding door that covers the receptacle when not in use. These work best for outlets that you have to repeatedly plug things into and unplug things from, such as a vacuum cleaner. They are also difficult for children to figure out and should be effective for many years.
Ideal for outlets that are kept out of site and rarely used, outlet plugs are usually easier for kids to figure out but are still good at preventing access to the inside of the outlet. The good news is that they can be used interchangeably in standard and decorator outlets.
Keeping your children safe is your number one priority, and childproofing your electrical outlets is a great way to do that. Damaged or malfunctioning outlets can also be a major safety hazard in your home, so if you need outlet repair in Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, DC, call Kolb Electric today!