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Teach Your Child to Be Safe With Electricity

Kids need to know the dangers of electricity. Parents find out quite early how fascinating electrical lights, outlets and wires can be to their young child. In order to ensure safety in and out of the home, electrical safety must be explicitly taught and reviewed often.

Electricity seeks to find the shortest route to the ground and will go through anything that will conduct it, including you. Remembering this one fact is the basis of all safety rules involving electrical energy.

The Tennessee Valley Authority lists these rules for electrical safety on their excellent website:

Indoor Safety:

Never turn on a light switch or electrical appliance while you are wet or while you are in the bathtub.
Be careful not to leave electrical cords where people might step on them. Wear and tear on the cord can cause it to become unsafe.
Check electrical cords for exposed wiring before plugging anything in. If you see a worn-looking cord, point it out to an adult.
Never put any object other than a plug designed for that purpose into an electrical outlet. If you have questions about whether a plug is safe to use, ask your parent or a teacher.
Never touch electrical outlets with your fingers or with objects.
Ask an adult to help you change light bulbs. Always turn lamps and other light fixtures off before changing a bulb.
In case of an electrical fire at home get out of the house, then call the fire department and an adult.
Never use water to try to put out an electrical fire—you could be electrocuted.

Outdoor Safety:

Never climb utility poles, transmission towers, or fences around electrical plants or substations (which house equipment that reduces high voltage electricity so it can be used by consumers). If you see other people doing these things, tell an adult you trust right away.
Stay away from areas or buildings marked with signs that read “Danger: High Voltage.”
If you enjoy climbing trees, avoid trees that are near electrical power lines.
Never, ever touch an outdoor electrical pole or wire that has fallen to the ground. It could kill you!
Stay away from and never touch transformers (usually large metal boxes attached to utility poles or on the ground) or substations. They contain high-voltage equipment that can hurt or kill you.
Come inside during a thunderstorm (or even occasional flashes of lightning with no rain). Many people around the world are struck by lightning each year. Nearly all are badly injured and some are killed.
Call 911 if you see a person who has been or is being electrocuted. Do not touch the person because they could be carrying the flow of electricity.
Never swim during storms. As soon as you hear thunder or see lightning, get out of the water.

These rules are listed in their entirety because every one is crucial- your child will likely run into one or more of these safety situations at least once before they are grown up.

Preschool

Very young children are not ready for detailed descriptions and explanations about the dangers of electricity. Using strong, consistent language can let them know you mean business when they approach an electrical danger.

Little fingers are strongly tempted by electrical outlets. Use outlet covers cheaply obtained at any dry goods or hardware store on every outlet.

Make sure wires are in good repair and that they are not where your child can get caught in them.

Be extremely careful with electrical appliances such as irons, mixers, blenders, blow dryers and curling irons. Make sure to unplug and properly store these items after each use. The same goes for power tools and other workshop equipment.

Because preschoolers love to model after Mom and Dad, think out loud while you are deliberately taking safety precautions. They will learn a lot listening to you and watching how you safely handle electricity.

Older preschoolers can begin to understand the power and danger of electricity, as well as its usefulness. What you teach them will begin to make sense. However- never take their understanding for granted!

Main points to address:

  • Use strong, consistent language to teach very young children about electrical danger.
  • Use outlet covers on every outlet.
  • Always put away electrical appliances and power tools immediately after use.
  • Never take their understanding and compliance for granted.

Grades K-3rd

Young school age children are beginning to understand the uses and dangers of electrical power. Letting them plug in and use lamps and certain electrical appliances and tools is fine as long as they are in good repair. By this time they should know the basic rules of safety listed above.

Don’t leave safety instruction to your child’s school, however. They may or may not include electrical safety in their curriculum. Explicit teaching is necessary. If your young child is a risk-taker, make sure you closely monitor them around sources of electrical power. Better safe than sorry!

At this age children become fascinated with all sources of power. This is a good time to help them learn about the history of electricity, the various ways electricity is produced, and about ways to conserve electricity. Finding ways to save energy can become a fun family project!

Main points to address:

  • Explicit instruction on electrical safety is necessary. Don’t wait for your child’s school to do it.
  • Monitor your child’s use of electricity.
  • Help them learn how electricity is produced and how to conserve it.

Grades 4-6th

Older school age children generally recognize electrical dangers and know what to do to avoid them. The outdoor safety tips listed above are particularly important at this age.

Your child must also be able to resist the temptations they may encounter when playing with other children and when out of your direct supervision. Teach them to say “No” to friends and to report any dangerous situations to an adult.

This is a great age to teach your child about alternate energy sources and about “green living”. Using energy wisely has become a necessity. Let your child help find additional ways to ensure safety in the home and to save energy. Being energy safe and savvy is cool!

Main points to address:

  • Outdoor safety tips need to be reinforced at this time.
  • Teach your child to resist temptations presented by peers.
  • Teach your child how to deal with and report dangerous situations.
  • Help your child learn about alternate energy sources.

Resources

Resources that can help you in your venture:

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