When childproofing, parents often add outlet covers to their shopping list but need some help in selecting products that curious explorers can’t easily remove from an outlet. There are three main types of outlet covers that are available for childproofing outlets and some options are better than others. Since children can suffer serious shock and burn injuries if they insert objects into outlets, selecting the best type of outlet cover is important. Also, outlets are usually low to the ground and easily accessible to children.
Outlet Plugs or Caps
Outlet plugs, which come in various sizes and shapes, have the benefits of being inexpensive and can be good for traveling. These plugs can be a choking hazard, as children typically learn to remove them and will often put them in their mouths. This is especially true with older outlets, which may not hold the plugs securely in place. In addition, caregivers often forget to replace outlet plugs if they use the outlet. If parents are going to use outlet plugs, they should remember:
- Purchase outlet plugs that are too big for a baby or child to choke on. If they fit inside a toilet paper tube, they are a choking hazard.
- Always replace outlet plugs after using the outlet.
- Skip the cute or colorful ones – they will attract your baby to the outlets.
- Test the outlet plugs after they are installed – they should be difficult for you to remove to ensure they are difficult for curious toddlers to remove.
Sliding Outlet Covers
The second type of cover is the sliding outlet cover or self-closing cover. This type can easily be installed by removing the screw holding the existing cover plate and replacing with the sliding outlet cover. When a caregiver or possibly a child unplugs something, the cover automatically closes over the socket holes. This feature makes the outlet safer by eliminating the choking hazard of an outlet plug, and without having to rely on someone remembering to reinstall something. Parents also don’t have to worry that their baby is going to crawl over and remove this type of cover. Different versions are available for various types of outlets.
Box Outlet Covers
A third option is the box outlet cover. These products are available in different sizes to cover small or large electrical plugs and the outlet. Options are available to accommodate the size of larger adapters. Box outlet covers are great devices for items that are always plugged in and prevent a child from playing with an electrical plug. Also, the covers can be easily removed if the outlet is needed.
A note on tamper-resistant outlets
Tamper-resistant outlets require two objects to be inserted at the same time for electrical power. They contain a built-in shutter system that allows plugs to be inserted when equal pressure is applied simultaneously to both sides of the receptacle. Tamper-resistant outlets reduce the risk of electrical injuries, but they are not completely tamper-proof. Unfortunately, some people believe that tamper-resistant outlets are “child proof” when they are not. Tamper-resistant outlets do not prevent children from imitating adults and inserting plugs into outlets. Extension cords, shredders, small appliances and curling irons are just a few examples of dangerous electrical items in the home that children could turn on if they can plug them in. In addition, it can be hard to know if the shutters on tamper-resistant outlets are broken. Add safety precautions even when tamper-resistant outlets are installed.