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on February 05, 2007, 08:18:31 am
by Paul Mernon

Your child grows. And growing, he or she explores the world around. This is a beautiful, natural process. Your child learns through tasting, touching, climbing, pushing and pulling things. But you, as a parent, know that there are safe things for your child and not-so-safe things. This leads to a delicate problem - you need to keep your child safe and not to spoil his/her learning experience. Too much articles about childproofing concentrate only on keeping a child safe, ignoring the second part of the goal which is also very important.

This leads to complaints that children often outsmart most sophisticated childproofing solutions. I say that its unavoidable if you looking at childproofing as some kind of competition between you and your child. Humans, especially little humans, are very inventive and love to solve puzzles. Until the child knows what an outlet is, it will attract him/her. I think your task is not to compete, but to be on the same side with your child. Encourage learning, help your child to grow. Look at childproofing solutions as a temporary means, and teach your child about dangers as soon as he/she is able to understand. Until then you need to guide his/her attention away from dangerous things and places. The goal of this article is to give you some ideas on one aspect of childproofing - ensuring that electrical outlets, wires and appliances will be harmless for your child.

There are couple of ways you can make an electrical outlet safe by adding some kind of cover on it:

  • Pluggable outlet covers. This is a cover that inserts in an outlet like an ordinary plug and sits there, preventing a child from accessing outlet holes and inserting different items into them. Child can still simply pull it out, so it is important to ensure that pluggable cover is hard enough to remove by a child but not too hard for adult. Unfortunately, I can't think any way to ensure it than just by testing with your own outlets. Maybe its worth to bring one of your outlets into the store to test. These covers are cheap and easy to install.
  • Outlets with slidable covers. This is a more sophisticated solution, which requires replacing outlet faceplate. A spring automatically slides the coverplate when plug is removed from the outlet. Aside to preventing a child from inserting items into outlet, it also solves the problem when a child removes the plug that is already in the outlet - an outlet is covered automatically. This is a more expensive and harder to install solution than pluggable covers.

But remember, you goal is to guide child's attention away - so try to cover outlets behind a heavy furniture, in a places not easy to access, so your child just won't notice them. I think you've got the idea.

Cords and wires pose another risk for your child - he/she can chew them, or pull so something can fall. So you need to keep all wires bundled, attached and possibly out-of-reach. Wires should not run under the rugs. Also, don't leave or use any electric appliances where they can come in contact with water. As a last line of defense against a potential electrical harm for your child, consider installing arc-fault breakers in the service panel if you're not already have them.

Don't forger about childproofing while traveling with a child. Ask if the hotel can childproof your room when choosing where to stay. A small trick is to carry a roll of masking tape with you - it can cover an outlet, or secure a cord in place.

If you have no time, or just don't sure about childproofing, there is a number of childproofing service offerings, so you can hire a specialists to do it for you.

Do not forget to remind yourself that your goal is also to help your child to learn about the world, not only to keep him or her safe. Happy childproofing!

About the Author

There is a website assembled by Paul Mernon, with pieces of advice about electric outlets. As an example there is article on electrical outlet types.
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