Babies and young children seem drawn to electrical outlets. Perhaps the holes just seem to be waiting for a finger to be inserted. It is a no-brainer that humans and electricity do not mix well, especially baby humans.
The shock produced by the electrical outlets in your home is enough to severely burn, even potentially kill, a young child. The last thing you want it for your child to end up in the hospital, or worse.
It can be argued that even more tantalizing than electrical outlets are electrical cords themselves. I have noticed that my 10-month-old loves anything that resembles some sort of string: ribbons, drawstrings on hoodies and sweat pants, and (yes) electrical cords (and there have been a lot of discipline and teaching opportunities concerning the latter). No matter how many times she is told no, she just finds her way right back.
If your child is like mine, you are going to need to do some serious child-proofing with your electrical cords. Once she finds them, she is likely to try chewing on them, or practice unplugging and re-inserting them like Mommy and Daddy do, and this could leave her susceptible to electrical shocks and burns. Thankfully, there are many options you can consider, and most are very easy and cost little to no money at all.
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Time to Play Interior Decorator
Being a full-time wife and mother, I spend a lot of time at home. Seeing the same thing day in and day out starts to bore me after a little while. So, from time to time, I like to redecorate.
I find new ways to organize all of the little things (like papers and toys) and rearrange the furniture to give each room a fresh, new feel. I believe it is safe to say I am not alone in this, and if this is you, you may use the “excuse” of child-proofing in order to play interior decorator.
Your furniture can be a great way to hide those tempting electrical cords. As soon as my daughter started to crawl, in addition to plugging up all of the electrical outlets with those plastic covers, I began to rethink my furniture layout.
I pushed couches, chairs, and end tables up against the walls to keep them from sliding if my child were to use them to pull herself up, and, also, to hide electrical outlets from her (which meant less plastic covers I needed to use).
Hide and (Don’t) Seek
Rearranging your home is not only good for covering the source of electricity, but you can also utilize your furniture to hide your cords. If your cords are within reach of your little one, you run the risk of her pulling that lamp, TV, or computer monitor onto her head.
Most furniture, especially desks, entertainment centers, and book shelves, have cut out areas that are meant for feeding cords through. Utilize these for things like lamps, televisions, and computers (or whatever you use that usually stays plugged in to one place) to keep those cords out of reach of little hands.
If a certain piece of furniture you want to use does not have a pre-made hole, you can make one yourself by either drilling through the solid wood or cutting through the thin cardboard backing that is on most shelving units.
You may also have areas of your home where power strips are utilized (like around your TV or computer). If you are unable to have these out of sight and reach under or behind your furniture, you can try these power strip covers. They are made to accommodate thick cords, and prevent your child from being able to tug on or unplug them.
Wrap It Up
Cords not only pose a shock and burn risk to your little one. They can also be choking hazards should they get wrapped around your child’s neck. The best solution to help you prevent this from happening is to shorten the cord.
Ideally, you want to make it so your cords do not hang longer than 12 inches. This way there is not enough slack for your child to get caught on.
I like being creative, and I like saving money. So, naturally, I am an advocate for the DIY (do it yourself) solution for anything that comes up around the house. There are some great, easy options for DIY fixes to your toddler vs. electrical cord dilemma.
Coil up your excess cord length (keeping it about the size of your palm) and use zip or twist ties to hold the coil tight. If you use zip ties, be sure to cut the tail flush so that it does not injure your child.
You can also use these cord shorteners. Just wrap up your cords inside, and they remain hidden inside the plastic casing. I recommend using Velcro strips to attach the case to the wall or under furniture to keep it from hanging or resting on the floor.
One Foot in Front of the Other
So, we’ve covered up the electrical source, preventing potential shocks and burns, eliminated the knockout risk by feeding cords behind and under furniture, and reduced the risk of cord strangulation by shortening our exposed cords. But there is one more hazard you need to be on the lookout for when it comes to electrical cords: tripping.
Whether your child is crawling, walking, or running, any uneven ground could mess up their footing. Long cords, particularly extension cords that run across the room, are just waiting to catch a foot and trip someone up.
You end up with falls, skinned knees, and sad eyes. There are a few options to consider when it comes to getting rid of these tripping hazards.
The best option would be to eliminate the risk altogether. Extension cords should be used temporarily (like if you are vacuuming or using an electrical appliance outdoors) and unplugged when not under your direct supervision.
If you are using an extension cord because there is not an outlet nearby, consider rearranging so that your electrical devices are closer to the outlet.
There may be some cases where that is not possible. If you absolutely must use an extension cord long-term, you want to make sure that it either runs along the wall (and not across the room where it could trip someone) or that it is covered up.
An easy, DIY solution is to use wide duct tape along the length of the cord to keep it secured to the ground.
If you do not want to (or cannot, due to rental agreements) leave sticky residue on the floor, you can use these duct cord covers. They are basically little plastic speed bumps that sit flush to the ground, making them easy to step or crawl over without tripping. With channels of varying sizes running through them, they can accommodate cords of just about any size.
We may not always like it, but the fact is we live in a world run by electricity. This means that there are electrical cords running throughout our homes, just waiting for little hands (and mouths) to find them. It may take some time and effort to find and child-proof them all, but if you can prevent a number of accidents from befalling your child, it is well worth it.
If you want more information – Check out our complete guide to child proofing here.