While children’s curiosity knows no boundaries, it can sometimes put them in danger, especially when electricity is involved.
Each year approximately 24,000 children under the age of 10 suffer severe shock and burns when they stick items into the slots of electrical receptacles; and it is estimated that there are six to 12 fatalities a year related to this hazard. Nearly one-third of these injuries are the result of small children placing ordinary household objects, such as paper clips, pens, safety pins, screws and nails, forks, hair pins, keys and coins, into an outlet.|
Since 2008, in order to help prevent these types of injuries, the National Electric Code (NEC) requires Tamper Resistant Receptacles (TRRs) in new residential construction and renovated homes. Tamper resistant receptacles feature built-in shutter systems that prevent foreign objects from touching electrically live components when they’re inserted into the slots. However, the shutters don’t impede normal plug insertion, removal or function. They are designed with spring-loaded receptacle cover plates that close off the receptacle openings, or slots (see diagram). The receptacle functions the same as a standard version, but adds a built-in safety mechanism preventing the delivery of electricity to anything other than plug blades. Existing homes can be easily retrofitted with TRRs using the same installation guidelines that apply to standard receptacles. They should only be installed by a licensed electrician and carry a label from a nationally recognized, independent testing lab, such as UL, ETL or CSA. These special receptacles have been used in pediatric areas of hospitals for more than 20 years and have proven to be a reliable solution in preventing electrical injuries.
The specialized outlets cost about 50 cents more than a traditional receptacle. In a newly constructed home, TRRs would add as little as $50 to the total cost of the home. In existing homes, standard electrical receptacles can be replaced with TRRs for about $2 per outlet – a small price to pay to ensure that your children are protected against electrical shocks and burns from electrical outlets.