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Illinois Country Living

Michael L. Ashenfelter
Michael L. Ashenfelter,
Safe Electricity

Safety & Health:

Teach Your Children
Parents, caregivers urged to help protect the smallest among us

If you have small children or occassionally care for them, I urge you to learn about electrical safety and to use that information to teach the youngsters about electrical safety.

At this time of year children are often restless and bored from being cooped up inside during the winter. This might inspire them to be just as curious and adventurous indoors as they are outside. You can help prevent that curiosity from creating a deadly tragedy.

Statistics provided by the National Electric Manufacturers Association (NEMA), support the need for making safety a priority.

In the U.S., an average of seven children per day, mostly boys under age three, are treated in emergency rooms for injuries due to contact with electrical outlets. Typically, these injuries occur at home and are caused by inserting common objects such as hairpins, keys and paper clips. Most victims experience 1st-degree or 2nd-degree burns – but more serious injuries also occur.

Often these injuries are reportedly happening even when adult supervision is present.

Luckily there are some really affordable and convenient ways to make your home less hazardous.

Safe Electricity, a safety awareness program of the Energy Education Council, recommends investing in the following measures to protect your loved ones:

• Tamper Resistant Outlet Receptacles – These receptables have built-in shutter systems that prevent single-pronged objects like hairpins and paper clips from being inserted. Unlike plastic outlet caps, the new receptables are permanent, automatic and reliable. They install just like standard outlets and are marginally more expensive. NEMA estimates that it costs only $50 more per average home to install the tamper-resistant receptacles.

• Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) – These devices are used in interior outlets of the home in rooms with high water use such as the kitchen, bathroom, laundry and basement. GFCIs should also be installed on exterior outlets as well. GFCIs stop the flow of electricity instantly if there is a problem.

• Professional Electrical Inspections – Hiring an electrical professional ensures home safety by making certain home electrical systems and wiring is adequate to support increased electric demands of a growing and active family. An older home may be inadequately wired for today’s electrical consumption, putting your family at risk for fire and electrical shock.

• Make sure everyone in the family knows to stay away from downed power lines and wires and tell children to report any fallen or dangling wires to an adult. Always assume that any power line is fully charged and stay far away.

It’s a good idea to include utility emergency numbers with other posted emergency phone numbers, and instruct children how to call for help in an emergency.

For more information on electrical safety visit

For More Information:

Michael L. Ashenfelter is the Sangamon County Electrical/ Mechanical Inspector and a member of the Safe Electricity Advisory Team (, 217-747-5111

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Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives

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