Safe Outlets Available for Your Home or Business

GFCI Tamper-Resistant outlet Indiana White's ElectricalSince 2008, the National Electrical Code has required all outlets at new installations be tamper proof. The reason is that each year about 2,400 children in the United States are electrocuted, burned, and sometimes killed by sticking items in electrical sockets.

To prevent accidental electrocution, several improvements have been made to make outlets safer for children and adults alike.

Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter

One improvement, invented in 1961, is the ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). You’ve likely seen a GFCI before — they’re the wall sockets with reset buttons on them, and the National Electric Code requires they be installed in all new bathrooms, crawl spaces, kitchens, most outdoor receptacles, and unfinished basements.

GFCIs work by monitoring the difference between the current going into and out of an appliance. If that difference is greater than 5 milliamps, the GFCI shuts off the electrical flow. The reason it shuts it off when the difference exceeds 5 milliamps is because the difference in flow indicates a possible ground fault, meaning electricity is being directed through a source other than the wiring, that other source possibly being your body.

Tamper-Proof Wall Outlet

Another improvement is the tamper-resistant wall outlet. These are the outlets with spring-loaded shutters inside them that must be compressed at the same time to gain access to the electrical system. The National Electric Code not only requires these outlets at new and renovated homes but at other properties where children are likely present.

If you have children, are remodeling, or simply want to make your home or business safer, you should consider replacing any existing outlets, especially old, two-prong versions, with safer GFCI and tamper-proof versions.

There’s no reason your house’s electrical system should pose a hazard. If you’re concerned about your current wall outlets or electrical system in general, contact your local electrician to schedule an inspection.

Childproofing Your Home’s Electrical System

Childproof Electrical
childproof electrical
One of the biggest joys of parenting is being there for all of the “firsts.” The first word, the first day of school, the first date. Certainly one of these exciting firsts comes when children first learn to crawl and become mobile. As with every other aspect of parenting, this change comes with a set of responsibilities: it’s time to childproof your home.

Electricity is an important part of any modern household, however it can pose a number of dangers to children. Electrical appliances and devices were created for the convenience of the adult using them, not for the safety of the children. We all want to protect our children in every way we can, so while you’re childproofing your home, be sure to childproof your home’s electrical system.

Electrical Outlets

According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), approximately 2,400 children suffer electrical shock or burns when they stick items into the slots of an electrical outlet. Making sure that all electrical outlets are covered is a great first step to childproofing your home’s electrical system. There are a few ways to do this.

Outlet Covers

The cheapest option to keep children out of electrical outlets is to place a plastic cap over the outlets. You can buy outlet covers in any store that carries baby safety items. Outlet covers are small plastic pieces with two prongs (just like an electrical cord) that slide into the electrical outlet. This keeps children from being able to put other things into the outlets. Outlet covers are easy for adults to install and remove, but babies and young children don’t have the dexterity to get beneath them.

Sliding Plate Covers

A better solution to keep electrical outlets covered is to use horizontal sliding plate covers. Sliding plate covers keep the slots of the electrical outlet covered until ready for use. To use the outlet, just slide the cover over to reveal the slots, and then plug in the device. Keep in mind that this type of outlet cover is only for use with outlets that aren’t constantly in use.

Tamper-Resistant (TR) Receptacles

By far, the safest solution to childproofing electrical outlets is installing Tamper-Resistant (TR) Receptacles. If you have a newer home (built in 2008 or later), you may already have TR Receptacles. TR Receptacles have spring-loaded shutters that close off the slots of electrical outlets. The shutters only open when both spring are compressed simultaneously. When a plug is inserted into the receptacle, both springs are compressed at the same time, allowing the shutters to open. But when a child attempts to insert an object into only one slot, the shutters remain closed and there is no contact with electricity. If your home doesn’t already have TR Receptacles, contact a licensed electrician to install them for you.

childproof electrical

Electrical Cords

Being sure that all in-use cords are protected is just as important as keeping the outlets themselves covered. Here are a few ways to protect your little one from electrical hazards when it comes to electrical cords.

Occupied Outlet Covers

For outlets that are constantly in use, such as an outlet with a lamp “plugged in” to it, it is easiest to just place a piece of furniture in front of it to block access to it. If that’s not possible, you can use a plastic box-like cover (such as the LectraLock outlet cover) to allow the outlet to remain in use, but prevent little fingers from unplugging the cords and tampering with the outlet.

Power Strip Cover

If you have your TV, computer, or other devices plugged into a power strip, consider using a power strip cover to protect your child from tampering with it. A power strip cover is a plastic cover with an opening for cords, but that shields the rest of the unit. Keep in mind that with enough work, a little hand may be able to slide into the slot for the cords, so it is not 100% foolproof, but it is a better solution than using nothing at all.

Cord Shorteners

If you have long cords in your house, these are not only a temptation for little ones to pull or chew on, but they can also pose a strangulation hazard. Consider using cord shorteners to shorten the amount of exposed cord. Cord shorteners are usually round cases inside which you can wrap the excess cord.

Use Common Sense

Above all, use common sense. Never leave a child unattended, and be sure that you’re familiar with your surroundings before letting Baby explore.

Electrical Safety Tips for Pool Owners

electrical safety for pools

For most of us here in central Indiana, Memorial Day marks the unofficial beginning of summer. The kids are on summer break, we’re enjoying Indy 500 festivities, and backyard pools are ready for swimming.

Of course, we all know to use caution around pools, especially when children are present. But with all of the excitement of summer and pool season, electrical safety for pools often gets overlooked. Here are a few electrical safety tips to keep in mind this summer if you’re opening or using a backyard pool.

Keep all outdoor outlets covered and dry.

Having outdoor outlets can really come in handy year-round to operate yard equipment, plug in Christmas lights, or to plug in any devices you’re using outside. Just make sure to use outdoor outlets carefully and always keep them covered, especially around pools, hot tubs, or other summer water activities. If your outdoor outlets don’t have covers already on them, have a licensed electrician install some to be sure they are up to code.

Use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) for electrical devices used outside to help prevent electrocutions or electric shock.

A GFCI shuts off an electric power circuit when it detects that electricity is flowing along an unintended path, such as through water or even through a person. This is especially important for outdoor circuits or outlets that are often near water.

Keep all electrical devices and cords at least 10 feet away from water.

It’s usually common sense not to use electrical devices too close to the water, but take extra care to make sure any devices used outdoors are in an area where they won’t pose a hazard to anyone swimming, especially when children are present. When possible, use battery-operated devices around the pool and hot tub to avoid electrocution or electric shock.

Never swim during a thunderstorm.

Water is a great electrical conductor, but you certainly don’t want it conducting electricity through you! Lightning regularly strikes water, and nearby lightning could injure or kill someone in the water. If you hear or see thunder or lightning, always get everyone out of the water and to a safe place.

To avoid electric shock drowning, have a licensed electrician inspect and upgrade your pool or hot tub in accordance with local codes.

Whether this is your first summer in a new home with a pool, or you’ve been swimming in the same pool for 20 years, have a local Indianapolis electrician inspect your pool or hot tub to make sure its electrical system is up to code. This can help ensure your peace of mind and the safety of those enjoying it this summer.

Happy Memorial Day from White’s Electrical!