May is Electrical Safety Month | Child Electrical Safety
May is National Electrical Safety Month! Kickstart the month by going over electrical safety with your kids and babyproofing your home from electrical hazards. Regardless of if you have children or not, going over this list will help ensure the safety of your home and family.
You can't always be with your child to protect them, but by teaching them these basic electrical safety rules, you can show them how to take care of themselves. Electricity is ubiquitous in our lives. Teach your children and yourself how to live in an electrical world.
Avoid the Shock of Your Life
1. Trees act as power conductors and serious injury can come from contact.Keep kids off of trees near power lines. If you are planning a treehouse or other tree-activity, make sure that you choose a tree that is far away from power lines and utility poles. The same goes for swimming and playground equipment – make sure they are aren’t underneath or near power lines. Trees that come into contact with power lines can create power outages, shock and fire hazards. Similarly, if you find that branches are getting too close to power lines, NEVER attempt to trim the tree limbs yourself. Always call your local utility company (the number on your electric bill) to prune and remove branches that are too close to power lines. If you notice a sparking hazard or fire, call 911.
2. Despite Benjamin Franklin’s kite experiment with electricity, NEVER fly a kite in stormy weather or too close to power lines. If you do end up getting your kite stuck in power lines, let the handle and string go and never attempt to get it down. Leave the kite alone, because electricity can easily travel down the line and shock or even kill you. Do not touch the kite or line and call your local utility company immediately. Stay in the area to warn people not to touch the kite or anything connected to the kite.
3. Utility poles are the property of the utility and should never be climbed or worked on. Although it might be tempting to climb, it is illegal to do so and the risk of falling and being electrocuted is too high. Going back to safety tip #1, NEVER attempt to trim trees near your utility lines. Leave this up to the professionals.
4. Never play on or near electrical equipment. Sometimes, if wires run underneath the ground, metal box transformers will be above ground on a cement platform. These mounted electrical boxes (usually green) house high-voltage transformers which should never be played with. Transformer toys are fun, but actual transformers are extremely dangerous. Teach your kids how to identify pad-mounted and pole-mounted transformers and why they should steer clear of electrical equipment.
5. Stay away from all electrical substations, as they contain high-voltage equipment. If your child needs to retrieve a toy, have them first notify an adult so that they can call electrical utility.
6. Never play outside or swim during a thunder or lightning storm. Seek shelter immediately.
7. Pull plugs out of the socket by the plastic handle. Never pull a plug out by its cord – electricity can jump and shock you. You can also damage the cord.
8. Never mix water and electricity. Keep radios, hair dryers/straighteners, TVs, and other electrical appliances away from sinks, toilets, and bathtubs. Make sure you are testing your GFCI outlets every month or two. This will make sure that your ground fault circuit interrupters are working properly.
9. Never stick foreign objects into electrical outlets or play near cords and other electrical equipment. Although outlet covers offer some protection, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 100% of all 2-4 year olds were able to remove one type of plastic outlet cap within 10 seconds. The better option for homes with young children is installing tamper resistant receptacles for all the outlets in your home.
10. Install GFCI and AFCI outlets and breakers in your home to protect against arc and ground faults. The National Electrical Code (NEC) used to require AFCI protection in all bedrooms, but they have expanded that requirement to include most rooms in the home. Electrical arcs occur for a variety of reasons, but they are the primary cause of home electrical fires. AFCIs turn off the electricity going into the circuit when they detect dangerous arcing situations. GFCIs shut off power when they detect a leaking current. AFCIs protect your home against electrical fires while GFCIs protect against deadly shocks and electrocutions. In addition to making sure you have AFCI and GFCI protection you need, set reminders to test these devices every month. Depending on your electrical system, you can test them at your receptacles or from the breaker box. You can tell if you have GFCI or AFCI receptacles because they will have test and reset button on them.
How to Test a GFCI and AFCI
In the unfortunate event that someone is being shocked:
1. Do not touch them or anything they are touching.
2. Turn off the electrical power by using the breaker box. Do not try to unplug the electrical source.
3. Call 911!
For more information on power lines, substations, pad-mounted transformers, and more, check out this Electrical Safety Guide.
For more on Electrical Safety Month, Check Your Home for Electrical Hazards.
Call the expert electricians at Gold Medal Service for more information on electrical safety and how to protect your children and family from electrical hazards in and around your home.
To help keep you safe and save you money, Gold Medal's Total Care Club ensures that your electrical system is completely safe and up-to-date.
If you have children at home or expecting one soon, call a licensed Gold Medal technician at (732) 365-3199. Our trusted technicians are available to answer any questions you may have.