Keep Kids Safe With Tamper-Resistant Outlets
Kids love to explore. They climb, poke, tinker, and - of course - put things in their mouths. It’s all in the quest to figure out the world around them and learn how things work, but sometimes they get into things that can cause them harm. One of the most dangerous forms of exploration that seemingly no child can resist is putting things in electrical outlets – around 2,400 kids are shocked or burned by power outlets every year!
So to ensure electrical safety for their children, many homeowners install childproof outlets or safety devices that put a protective barrier between their little ones and the electrical current running through the home’s outlets. But not all of these work equally well, and some have major downsides that can’t be ignored. This article will explore the benefits of installing tamper-resistant outlets and signs to replace an old outlet.
How Childproof Outlets Improve Electrical Safety
When a foreign object is inserted into an electrical outlet – be it a bobby pin, paperclip, screwdriver, toy, or anything else small enough to fit in the contact openings – there’s a high risk that the electrical current flowing through the circuit will travel through the object (and the person holding it) to get to the ground. A childproof outlet or outlet cover is designed to make it impossible (or at least difficult) for children to put anything in the contact openings.
Outlet plugs or caps are simply pieces of plastic that can be inserted into the outlet to cover the contact openings. Childproof outlet covers are shells or boxes that can be installed over the entire outlet while still allowing things to be plugged into it. While these can be decent options, they have significant drawbacks. On the other hand, tamper-resistant outlets have a more sophisticated and effective design.
So what is a tamper-resistant outlet? A tamper-resistant outlet (also called a tamper-resistant receptacle or TRR) features spring-loaded shutters that block the contact openings when nothing is plugged into them. With a typical TRR, these shutters are built into the outlet. Still, there are also childproof outlet faceplates with sliding outlet covers, which automatically slide over to cover the openings when something is unplugged.
Benefits of Installing Tamper-Resistant Outlets
Tamper-resistant outlets are designed so the built-in shutters only move when smooth prongs are inserted into both contact openings simultaneously. Not only does this prevent anything but plugs from being inserted into the outlet, but it also prevents the insertion of plugs with bent or damaged prongs. This helps protect children from the dangers of electricity.
Because they’re so difficult to bypass, TRRs have a significant advantage over other outlet childproofing devices. Children can figure out how to move self-closing outlet covers to expose the contact openings (though it may take some finger strength). Box outlet covers are good for things that remain plugged in at all times but are inconvenient if the outlet needs to be accessed more frequently. Outlet caps can be too easy for children to remove and present a choking hazard once removed from the outlet.
Signs Electrical Outlets Need Replacing
Most newer homes are built with tamper-resistant outlets, but many older homes may still need them. Even for homeowners without young children, it’s a good idea to install TRRs in case visiting friends or relatives bring their kids or simply to make sure the home is up to code when it comes time to sell.
But whether or not the home already has childproof outlets, homeowners should be on the lookout for signs that their outlets need to be replaced. These include:
- Plugs fall out easily or are loose – this can cause arcing between the contact terminals and the prongs.
- The outlet is cracked, burnt, melted, or otherwise damaged.
- The outlet makes a buzzing or crackling sound – indicating faulty components.
- The outlet is hot to the touch, indicating arcing or overheating elements.
- The outlet only has two holes (two-prong outlets are ungrounded outlets).
These issues can pose a severe fire hazard or increase the risk of electric shock, so homeowners should call a professional for outlet replacement if they notice any of these signs to maximize electrical safety in their homes.
About Mr. Air AC & Electrical
Mr. Air AC & Electrical has over three decades of experience serving Pompano Beach and the surrounding communities. They provide upfront pricing, same-day services, and financing. Call them today for childproof outlet installation in Pompano Beach, FL.