Electrical products form a major part of our everyday lives. You can find them in every room of your home. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these electrical products were not designed with your baby’s safety in mind. This article describes the steps that we would recommend that all parent take to minimize these risks:
(1) Install a residual current device or ‘RCD’
Residual current devices protect homes and their inhabitants from fatal electric shocks and house fires by automatically disconnecting your electricity supply in the event that electricity is flowing down an unintended path, e.g. through your body.
In a healthy circuit, the number of electrons entering that circuit at your ‘fuseboard’ should equal the number of electrons leaving that circuit, on their return. RCDs compare the flow and return rates and disconnect your electricity supply in a fraction of a second, if there is a significant discrepancy between these two ‘currents’. It is logical that any electrons which do not return to the ‘fuseboard’ must have leaked from the circuit into an unintended path.
Click here to read our guide on RCDs and learn how to find out if you already have one of these devices in your home.
(2) Don’t use extension leads, add more power sockets
It is both unsightly and dangerous to have extension leads trailing throughout your home; such cables are a trip hazard and are liable to overheating when overloaded, which can cause housefires, especially if they are on a reel and that reel is not totally extended during use. In addition, because extension leads are used to transport power across thoroughfares in your home, they are liable to become crushed or damaged, which can cause the exposure of live parts and increase the risk of fatal electric shocks.
It is cheaper and easier than you think to add additional power points in your home. Our Operatives take pride in finding clever ways of running cables in your walls and ceilings in the least intrusive ways. Even if we do have to chase a channel in a solid concrete wall, by the time we are finished the cable route will be invisible. T Prime Electricians we do not use surface mounted trunking for cable routing in habitable areas of your home, unless you specifically ask us to do so.
In addition, it is a simple matter to convert single sockets into doubles or doubles in to trebles, so if you are happy with the location of the power sockets in your home, but need more sockets, then get in touch today and we will give you a free no-obligation quotation to convert your existing sockets into doubles or trebles as required.
In fact, you can get a free instant fixed price quotation for this work directly from our website. What is more, all clients who use our self-service quotation tool receive a 20% discount, because we don’t need to sent an electrician out to their home to provide a free quotation. Click here to get your quote now (it takes about 5 minutes).
(3) Get a full electrical survey [EICR] of your property
The Wiring Regulations (BS7671) recommend that a full electrical survey (Electrical Installation Condition Report or ‘EICR’) is undertaken on every domestic electrical installation every ten years. An EICR will identify any existing defects which could be putting your family at risk. For example, if minimum IP ratings are not maintained throughout your home, then your child may be able to access live conductive parts with their small and inquisitive fingers.
Click here to read our article on the benefits of undertaking regular electrical surveys.
(4) Use cable tidies, but with caution
Trailing cables represent an obvious hazard to young children. Cable tidies appear to offer an elegant, if only partial solution to this problem; by grouping cables together the risk that a young child will become tangled up in trailing leads is clearly minimized.
While we support the use of these products, it is important to remember that power cables should not be grouped together with cables carrying extra low voltages, such as HDMI cables, printer leads, telephone wires etc. In addition, the grouping of multiple power cables should be avoided, as the heat they collectively generate can compromise their current carrying capacity, increasing the risk of house fires.
If you are concerned about your existing cabling arrangements, there are a number of things that we can do to permanently hide your tailing leads. For example, we can route your cables within your walls, so that they plug directly into the appliances they serve. Call us today on 0207 06 06 06 1 to discuss your requirements or to get a free no-obligation quotation to make your home child-proof today.
(5) DO NOT USE socket covers/ inserts
It is a legal requirement that British plug sockets incorporate a device preventing anything other than a plug from accessing their live terminals. Your electrician will check that these devices are all working when undertaking an electrical survey (EICR) of your home (see above).
Socket covers/ inserts are therefore unnecessary and because there exist no product standards regulating the design and manufacture of these products, they could actually introduce a new hazard into the equation; for example, if your child tries to remove one of these covers and the cover breaks, leaving the top ‘earth’ pin in situ, then your child may be able to access the live parts of the plug socket.
(6) PAT Testing
Portable appliance testing (‘PAT’) is the term used to describe the examination and testing of electrical appliances and equipment to ensure they are safe to use. Most electrical safety defects can be found by visual examination but some types of defect can only be found by testing. Only landlords and businesses are obliged to PAT test their electronic equipment each year. However, we always advise homeowners, especially those with young children, to PAT test their appliances regularly, to make sure that they are functioning correctly and do not pose a risk to the health of their family members.
(7) Make sure your protective devices are properly labelled so that you know how to isolate your supply in the event of an emergency
It is a good idea for all homeowners to familiarize themselves with their own electrical installation, so that they know how to isolate their appliances, individual circuits or their whole installation in the event of an emergency. If your fuseboard is not properly labelled then this should be rectified (and will be as part of you EICR electrical survey). If you do have an RCD installed at your property, you should perform a functional test on this device every three months, by pressing the small button labelled ‘T’ on the device to make sure that it ‘trips’ and isolates all of the circuits which it is supposed to protect. Prime Electricians are in the process of developing a free app to help homeowners schedule and manage their electrical and non-electrical maintenance obligations; Like our Facebook page or subscribe to our Twitter feed to be notified when this app is ready for download.
(8) Avoid appliances with ‘push in’ plugs, e.g. kettle leads.
Try and avoid purchasing appliances which have power leads which can be detached from the appliance itself, e.g. kettle leads:
If your child removes one of these leads, for example from the back of your desktop computer, and places the end of this lead in their mouth, then they will receive a potentially fatal electric shock. Unfortunately, some types of appliance, such as desktop computers and printers, are invariably supplied with detachable power leads. The best solution is to make sure these appliances are turned off, at the wall, when they are not in use, or to keep them in a locked room, which your child cannot access unsupervised.
(9) Induction hobs
These ultra-modern hobs transfer heat, from source to pot, via a process called induction, which is a much more efficient energy transfer mechanism than radiation, the heat transfer mechanism used by traditional hobs. In practice, this means that the hob itself does not get hot enough to burn a child’s hand.
While induction hobs are more expensive to buy, and only work with compatible pots and pans, it is estimated that they are 30% more energy efficient and cheaper to run than non-induction electric hobs and 45% more energy efficient (but not necessarily cheaper) than gas hobs.
(10) Invest in an instant hot water tap or purchase a ‘safe to touch’ kettle.
Counter-top kettles can be dangerous for children. If your child tugs on the cord, the kettle and its boiling hot contents could fall onto them. In addition, if they touch the outside of the kettle, while it is boiling or for some time afterwards, they will burn their skin.
One solution is to get rid of your counter-top kettle altogether and replace it with an instant hot water tap. These bits of kit will set you back anywhere from £400 – £700, depending upon the brand and model you purchase, and will take up a bit of room in the cupboard underneath your kitchen sink. However, they dispense with the need for a kettle, free up valuable counter-top space, and expedite the making of hot beverages and the cooking of pasta, vegetables, rice or anything else which requires you to bring a pot of water to the boil. Delicate vegetables such as asparagus, spinach and French beans can actually be cooked simply by holding a colander underneath the hot water stream for a few seconds. The taps themselves are child-safe as they require you to push down on the tap before twisting it, to produce hot water.
Alternatively, it is possible to purchase a double insulated kettle, the outside of which does not get hot. However, this does not eliminate the risk that your child will pull the kettle off the counter and be burned by its falling contents.