Children are naturally curious. They are constantly exploring, asking questions, and trying new things as they seek to understand the world around them.
But that inborn curiosity can be dangerous — and even deadly — when it comes to electricity. Electrical accidents contribute to a significant number of deaths, injuries, and property damage every year in the United States.
- Electrical hazards are responsible for 400 deaths and 4,400 injuries each year.
- About 140,000 electrical fires are reported annually. These fires claim an additional 400 lives and 4,000 injuries, along with $1.6 billion in property damage.
- Total economic losses due to electrical hazards exceeds $4 billion each year.
Children under 6 years of age are at an elevated risk of electrical injury. All it takes is one wrong move by an inquisitive youngster to result in tragedy.
Just like with other safety hazards, education and adult supervision can go a long way toward reducing your child’s risk of an electrical accident. Today let’s look at three important electrical safety topics kids should learn about from an early age:
- Outdoor electrical safety
- Indoor electrical safety
- Electrical emergencies
Outdoor Electrical Safety Rules
Playing outside offers many benefits for children. Just make sure your little explorers don’t get caught snooping around the many electrical hazards they may encounter (TVA, 2016). Make sure your kids follow these electrical safety rules when playing outside:
- Stay away from areas labelled “High Voltage.”
- Don’t play under or near power lines.
- Never touch or go near transformers or substations.
- Never climb utility poles, transmission towers, or fences around electrical plants or substations.
- Don’t climb trees near power lines.
- Never touch an electrical pole or wire that has fallen to the ground.
- Watch out for thunderstorms. If you can hear thunder, you can get hit by lightning. Never swim during a thunderstorm. Get out of the pool IMMEDIATELY and go indoors as soon as you hear thunder.
Indoor Electrical Safety Rules
There are many electrical hazards inside the home that the whole family should be aware of. You can keep your kids safe by practicing the following electrical safety tips:
- If you have toddlers or preschoolers, keep them away from electrical outlets and install caps on every socket that is within the child’s reach.
- For older kids, make sure they know to never touch an outlet with their hands or other objects.
- Teach older kids how to safely plug in and unplug appliances. Encourage them to always check cords for exposed wiring before plugging them in. Never plug in too many items using extension cords and keep cords out of high traffic areas to avoid a tripping hazard.
- Remind your children that water and electricity do not mix. Never use electric appliances in the bathtub, shower, or pool, and never touch an appliance with wet hands.
- Turn lamps and other light fixtures off before changing bulbs. Younger children should ask an adult to help.
In addition to these important safety rules, there are many precautions that adults can take to protect children from electricity dangers in the home (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2016):
- Keep wires out of your child’s reach.
- Supervise children when they are using electrical appliances and cords.
- Avoid storing or installing appliances near pools, showers, and tubs.
Besides these basic electrical precautions, it is essential that young people learn what to do — and what not to do — when an electrical emergency occurs.
- If the power goes out, stay in place and wait for an adult to help. Have flashlights in every room in case of a power outage.
- If stuck outside in a thunderstorm, get away from trees and metal playground equipment. Squat as low to the ground as possible with only your shoes touching the ground.
- If there is an electrical fire, get out of the building and call the fire department. Never use water to put out an electrical fire (TVA, 2016).
The American Academy of Pediatrics (2016) offers the following rules for responding to an electrical injury:
- Never touch the victim who is still connected to a power source. The same current will travel through your body and you can get injured as well. Disconnect the power supply before touching the victim; either unplug or turn the off switch.
- Never touch a live wire; use a nonconductive object such as rubber gloves or rolled up newspaper.
- Once the current is removed, check the victim’s breathing, pulse, skin color, and alertness. If the victim isn’t breathing and/or heart not beating, start CPR immediately.
- Move the victim as little as possible.
- Call 911 immediately.
If you have questions about keeping your family safe from electrical hazards, contact us at any time. By implementing just a few simple electrical safety tips, you can protect your kids and reduce their risk of injury.