There are probably several things that stand out as a danger to your curious toddler around the home – poisonous cleaning products, blind and curtain chains, sharp corners on furniture, and the ever-dangerous power outlet. Baby proofing electrics in your house is a big concern for a lot of parents, and rightly so. Christmas really ramps the stress levels up, with people visiting, cooking to do, shopping to do and the general chaos of family life in the mix.
Safety of the little ones in your life probably isn’t the first thing you had considered this Christmas, with everything else on your mind during the silly season. However, it doesn’t take a lot of effort, or have cost an arm or a leg to ‘child proof’ the home, and provide a safe and relaxed environment for everyone these holidays. The Northern Beaches lends to a great outside lifestyle, but a little consideration to the preparation of the inside of the home (for after the backyard cricket) goes a long way to prevent an accident.
It’s worth considering your power usage increase with the influx of visitors and might be worth saving money by lowering your energy output. Consider your quarterly usage and prepare yourself by calling an electrician to discuss a few things you can do to save money in the holiday madness
As an electrician, the following are electrical things I’ll be watching out for over the festive season for my family:
Christmas tree lights
Christmas lights can be eaten, wrapped around limbs and heads, become hot, and can blow a bulb leaving tiny sharp pieces of plastic or glass around. Children should have a healthy respect for lights, but before they can learn, they are often entranced and have to touch. You’ve probably got eyes in the back of your head, but just in case you can’t always watch, it might be worth purchasing or borrowing a playpen for the years where there’s a baby in the home. Alternatively, buying better quality lights from reputable retailers often offer child safe, heat resistant options in appropriate housing to keep little fingers from danger. A fibre optic tipped tree might also be an option for your family, eliminating the pulling, entrapment or choke risk all together – without limiting the fun. Some other important tips about reducing fire risk around your christmas tree are worth a read too.
Children love puzzles and I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if they don’t see something plugged in and have to reef it out and try put it back in. The problem lies with them not understanding what is supposed to go in and what is dangerous. Bobby pins, cutlery, keys, paper clips, jewellery and their own wet fingertips are all a threat. Purchasing plastic caps to cover outlets not in use can be a good short-term option, though doesn’t cover off the outlets currently in use. Power boards that are child friendly with swivel outlets are a good choice for when you are in an electrical hub in the house.
Alternatively, if you are a new grandparent, aunt, uncle or anyone likely to have a baby visitor a little more frequently, you can call your local electrician (link to contact page) to fit tamper proof power outlets. These outlets provide protection against shock to little curious minds and don’t make it harder for adults to use. Plastic caps blocking off outlets work, but can be VERY tedious when you want to use the outlet again, and don’t protect children from when they pull out already plugged in items. For a reasonable price, call me, Steve, at Electric Express for an easy and cost effective way to baby proof your house more permanently. (It’s also a good selling point for your home to other families going forward)
In the worst case scenario, and the little one gets into a power outlet, your best over all situation could be to have had your local electrician install a safety switch. These handy switches monitor the electricity output and protect grownups too by ensuring an even electrical supply is kept in your home. The switch cuts power within one thirty thousandth of a second minimising shock injuries.
If your telly isn’t wall mounted, it might be the perfect place for the little one in your life to catch their reflection. It is a fact that children can and have died from unfixed televisions falling on them. Kids are fearless and have a limited understanding of the real dangers attached to the weight of other objects. It is essential that the television is fixed to the wall or the cabinet and the cabinet is fixed to the wall to prevent danger. This not only protects children, but also protects your television from the easy eyes of thieves, your pets and the TV itself from falling forward and cracking the screen.
Extension cords/charger cables of any kind
Like a moth to flame, children like to follow cables to their origins, which is why outlets are so fascinating. On the other end of these cords however, are cameras, laptops, phones, DVD players, modems, computers, televisions, irons, lamps, clocks, iPod docks – and the list goes on. Not one of these items is a good thing to have fall on your little ones head! To minimise risk, try to group cables and place furniture in front of all cord clusters, away from little fingers. Taping cords that stay fixed year round i.e.: TV cables, DVD cables, router, gaming consoles etc., should be taped together and consolidated to minimise threat and interest.
Fixing cables to your skirting boards is also a great option. By running your cables behind furniture and then along the flooring line makes it impossible to pull items attached to them down on their little heads and bodies and costs you a packet of brackets and some screws.
Battery powered anything
During the gift giving season – especially with kids around, there often comes battery powered gifts. Packets of batteries get pulled out and lay around without further concern while dad is wrestling with a philips head to get the new toy going. In the meantime, little Mr or Miss has wasted no time getting into the batteries. Lithium batteries are particularly nasty as their button like shape lets baby quickly collect it in their mouth and attempt to swallow. It is urgent that these are retrieved immediately and appropriate medical attention is sought. A handy tip is not to put batteries in the bin, and where possible, to play Santa and place all batteries in toys ready to go for Christmas morning ahead of time.
Hot under bench oven
You’re sitting there enjoying a coffee and a catch up with some family after the Christmas roast has gone in the oven and notice there’s a certain little Miss or Mister not present. Although most new under bench ovens have low heat glass installed, its important not to let little hands get comfortable near the oven. Checking that your model isn’t too hot for the inside of your wrist when wholly hot is a good test. Where possible, run your oven without its light on – it’ll save you a bit of power and reduce the interest from the little ones.
So, before you panic, consider how many adults will be watching over your little angel, or if you’re hosting a toddler this year, you don’t have to rush out and buy everything under the sun. A bit of common sense goes a long way during the silly season when baby proofing electrics around the house, so let’s make sure we all come out on the other side smiling.
For other useful holiday tips for the backyard summer Christmas in Oz, see our article on outside electrical safety tips around the home.