According to Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), every day there are “nearly 7 children…treated in hospital emergency rooms for electrical shock or burn injuries caused by tampering with a wall outlet” Electrical safety may seem like common sense to most adults, but sometimes when it comes to teaching our young children or students about the dangers of electricity, we don’t always know how to explain it in a way they understand. We all want children to be safe, so if you’re a parent, teacher, or childcare worker, here are some basic tips for teaching children electrical safety at various stages of their development!
For Babies & Toddlers (up to age 2)
Children in this age group should never be left unsupervised in areas of the house where there’s easily accessible electricity. However, we understand that all parents can get distracted from time to time – no shame, moms and dads! Still, electrical safety for this age group really is dependent on the parents and caregivers. Take necessary precautions to keep little ones safe, such as:
Unplugging appliances that aren’t regularly used.
Installing tamper-proof outlet covers on all unused outlets.
Purchase cups with spill-proof lids to prevent spilling or splashing.
Switch to LED lightbulbs in table lamps or plug-in lights, as they produce much less heat.
Fix any faulty wiring that you know of.
Teach mobile toddlers and infants not to put fingers, toys, or objects into electrical outlets – do your best to explain to them that they can get hurt.
For Preschoolers & Kindergarteners (ages 3-6)
Each of these lists builds onto the previous one, so make sure children in this age group know not to put things -including their fingers! – into electrical outlets. Next, teach kids in this age group that electricity and water don’t mix. Teach them what toys or appliances are electrical and should therefore be kept away from water.
For Elementary Students (ages 7-10)
Don’t plug in too many cords to one outlet, even if using a power strip or extension cord.
Keep cords neat and organized.
If you live near an electrical substation and your children’s outdoor toys or your family pet gets inside the fence, teach children to ask an adult to call the electric company – never climb the fence or try to get inside!
Don’t pull an electrical plug from the wall by yanking it out by the cord; pull it directly from the outlet instead.
Always ask an adult for help when you need to use something electrical, especially if they’re not familiar with the object or appliance.
Look up and look out for power lines if you’re flying a kite or climbing a tree, as electricity can go right through the string or branch and right through you.
Keep electric items (toys, appliances, games, etc.) away from water, and never place glasses of water or other liquids near gaming consoles, tablets, or computers.
Keep metal objects out of toasters.
Stay away from broken or fallen power lines – a good visual aid for kids is to stay a school bus length away! Teach them to let an adult know.
Assume all wires are energized and could therefore be dangerous.
Never climb on power poles.
For Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers (ages 11-18)
Again, build upon the previous items listed. At this stage, work on adding in the following guidelines for safe handling of electricity:
Never operate electrical appliances or equipment near water, including hair dryers, curling irons, straighteners,
If your teen is driving, teach them that if an overhead wire ever falls across their vehicle while driving that they need to stay inside the vehicle and continue to drive away from the line. If the engine stalls, do not leave your vehicle. Warn people not to touch the vehicle or the wire; then call the local electric utility company and emergency services.
Finally, teach older children and teens to teach younger children these rules as well in order to help keep them safe.