Babies are curious little creatures. As any parent knows, once they start crawling, they can get themselves into all sorts of scrapes. One of the biggest concerns in the home is the danger posed by essential everyday items like electrical outlets and cords. It’s oh so tempting for a child to stick their fingers into plug sockets or play with dangling wires, which is why it’s very important to make sure you know the different options when it comes to how to babyproof cords and outlets.
Types of Electrical Outlets
The first thing to bear in mind when you are deciding how to babyproof cords and outlets is that electrical sockets in Australian homes are almost always Type 1. That means the outlets are designed for three flat pins arranged in a triangular pattern. Regulated by a specific safety code, these typically supply 230V at a frequency of 50Hz. While most will have a switch to turn on and off the flow of electricity, this doesn’t guarantee your baby’s safety, which is why many parents find themselves asking, “How can I hide wires and outlets?”
Types of Electrical Outlet Covers
Fortunately, there are several ways you can add that extra layer of security. These range from attachable devices that simply slot into the outlets, to changing the outlets entirely for ones that contain in-built safety features. Each method has its pros and cons, but it will depend on your individual home needs as to which option is best for you when you are deciding how to babyproof cords and outlets.
How to Baby Proof Empty Electrical Outlets?
Upgrade to Tamper Resistant Receptacle
Some newer homes have tamper-resistant receptacles (TRRs) already installed. These devices are designed to stop children from getting a nasty shock if they jam objects into electrical outlets. Spring-loaded shutters keep the sockets closed unless the plug prongs are simultaneously pushed into the outlet. While this can be an effective method to stop accidental electrocution, upgrading to tamper-resistant receptacles is one of the more expensive and labour-intensive routes out there.
Electrical Outlet Caps
Probably the simplest and cheapest way to babyproof electrical outlets is with caps. These are usually made of plastic and are inserted into empty sockets, blocking off the holes. One of the main concerns parents have with this option is that savvy babies can potentially remove the cap with a vigorous yank. Cap makers are savvy too, however, and you can purchase caps engineered to be more difficult for small hands to manoeuvre out of the socket, as well as designs that blend into the outlets, effectively removing the temptation to have a pull.
Safe-Plate Slide Covers
Less complicated to achieve than the TRR but still time-consuming, this method involves replacing the standard electrical outlet cover with one that has a handy added safety feature: a slide cover. When a plug is removed from the outlet, the safe plate automatically slides over the socket, preventing access.
Another easy option to deter inquisitive infants is an outlet shield covering up the electrical outlet entirely. Simply insert the shield’s prongs into the outlet, and hey presto, the outlet disappears!
As the name suggests, plug locks come with a ‘key’ or lever that is used to access the electrical outlet. There are several designs available on the market. Some have an actual plastic key that can be used to lock a cap in place, the downside here is you have to remember where you put the key! Others have a mechanism that is part of the actual lock, which is pulled out then turned or pressed to unlock the socket guard.
How to Baby Proof Occupied Electrical Outlets?
We’ve talked about what to do with unoccupied electrical outlets, but how do you babyproof cords plugged in, say, when you’ve got an electrical outlet that’s in continuous or frequent use, perhaps for a television or a phone charger? Again, there are a number of options available on the market to alleviate parental concerns.
Adapter and Plug Cover
How do I stop my child from unplugging cords? There are lots of adapter and plug cover models, ranging from those that completely conceal the outlet with a white cover to those that offer a smart-looking transparent cover that still keeps the outlet off-limits. Some models simply flip open, while others have different kinds of spring mechanisms or locks to keep the cover in place.
Power Strip Cover
Power strips are incredibly convenient in a world filled with electrical appliances, from computers and scanners to lamps and alarm clocks. They also provide a unique challenge when baby-proofing a home. Specific covers have been designed for power strips to prevent any mishaps with sockets or wires. These completely enclose the power strip, sealing them off inside a lockable shield. There are a couple of downsides. First, they are unavoidably bulky. Second, many of the options are designed to fit all styles of wires, so small wires can leave a gap that means the outlet is still accessible to particularly ingenious children. Time to get out the duct tape.
Electrical Outlet Box
While they won’t work for power strips, electrical outlet boxes have the advantage of completely sealing away plugs. While electrical outlet boxes take up more space than adapter and plug covers, they are also more comprehensive and much harder for youngsters to get into. Once these are installed, all you have to worry about is how to babyproof cords.
How to Baby Proof Cords
You’ve babyproofed your electrical outlets, kudos! Unfortunately, that still leaves the problem of how to babyproof cords, which inevitably snake out from plugs and provide endless fascination for curious children. These cords create numerous hazards. A yank on a cord can bring a heavy electrical item crashing down or cause a nasty fall once babies start to explore walking. Then there’s the concern of teething infants gnawing on cables.
Cord Covers for the Floor
When it comes to how to babyproof cords, the main area of focus should be the floor. Obviously, babies and young children are unlikely to make it onto tables, counters and desks. While the ideal solution would be to ensure all cords are out of reach, that’s probably not going to be feasible for most homes. It is possible to go down the DIY route and use duct tape to cover up any exposed cords that run along the ground, but there are also some more sophisticated options.
Cord shorteners are designed to gather up all the loose wires into a nice, neat container. Again, you could go down the DIY route and get some zip ties. Alternatively, a number of reputable brands sell cord shorteners that gather the wires up into a simple device that doesn’t need to have any effect on your home décor. Some cord shorteners come combined with an outlet cover, so you can babyproof cords and outlets all in one device.
Duct Cord Covers
This may be laborious, but installing duct cord covers over any wires that run along the floor will give you a sense of safety in the home. As we’ve already mentioned, you can go down the DIY route with duct tape, but if you want something that stays in place better and is a little easier on the eye, it might be worth purchasing a specially designed solution. Plus, many manufacturers make duct cord covers with flame retardant material for your added peace of mind when you’re deciding how to babyproof cords.
Particularly useful for baby-proofing cords coming out of power strips, cord sleeves gather cords together in a bundle and keep them out of the hands (and mouths) of children. Even if you didn’t have youngsters scampering about, you might want to invest in some cord sleeves, as they help to reduce the mess of lots of stray cords and make the home a tidier place.
Should you babyproof outlets?
While we might think of the home as the safest place in the world, electrical outlets and cords are a serious hazard for babies and young children. Accidents can range from getting a nasty shock to permanent bodily harm and even death. Considering the risks, it just makes sense to be as cautious as possible when it comes to your children’s welfare and ensure you know all the options when it comes to how to babyproof cords and outlets.
One of the easiest ways to check whether you should babyproof an outlet is to crawl around the house and see what outlets and cords would be within reach. It may sound silly and feel embarrassing, but there’s no better way to figure out where the risks are to your youngsters. It is also important in any home to check for faulty wiring, as this will reduce the efficacy of baby-proofed outlets and cords.