Results from a recent survey conducted by the Electrical Safety Foundation International found that 86 percent of respondents who childproofed their electrical outlets used removable plastic outlet caps as their chosen method. While this practice is safer than leaving outlets uncovered, plastic outlet caps are not a failsafe approach to childproofing.
Plastic outlet caps need to be removed in order for the outlet to be functional, and they pose a choking hazard for small children. Further, one study conducted by Temple University’s Biokinetics Laboratory reported that 100 percent of children ages two to four years old were able to remove plastic outlet covers from the sockets in less than ten seconds.
A better solution
Fortunately, there is a way to permanently safeguard children from the dangers of tampering with electrical outlets, but it’s not widely understood. Tamper-resistant receptacles (TRRs) provide a simple, affordable, reliable and permanent solution to help prevent injuries caused by tampering with wall outlets.
These advanced electrical safety devices, which resemble ordinary electrical outlets, feature an internal shutter mechanism that only opens when pressure is simultaneously and equally applied to both sides of the shutter, such as when a plug is inserted. Otherwise, the shutter remains closed and cannot be penetrated with fingers or objects such as keys, paperclips or hairpins.
Although not widely used in homes until recently, TRRs have been required in hospital pediatric care facilities for more than 20 years. In fact, TRRs have proven to be so effective that the National Electrical Code now requires them to be installed in all new home construction. Existing homes can be easily retrofitted with TRRs using the same installation guidelines that apply to standard receptacles. TRRs cost just $0.50 more than a standard electrical outlet, and it’s important to note they should only be installed by a licensed electrician.
TRRs not only prevent instances of childhood shock from tampering with wall outlets, but they also provide peace of mind. Once installed, no further action is required to ensure that your child or any child who enters your home doesn’t fall victim to curiosity caused by electrical outlets.
To learn more about tamper-resistant receptacles, visit www.esfi.org.
Brett Brenner, President, Electrical Safety Foundation International, [email protected]