Electricity is a dynamic power source. We live surrounded by it, but sometimes forget how dangerous it can be. Many electrical fires, injuries and electrocutions can be prevented when we understand and practice electrical safety. This is especially true for our youngest electric co-op members.
Throughout the year, your co-op offers safety works to help teach kids about electricity. But, as your child’s first and most important teacher, you can help reinforce those lessons.
Start at an early age, teaching them about the physical dangers associated with electrical components and how to handle electrical plugs, outlets, switches and other devices. Keep in mind, talking to your children about electrical safety should also include fun activities and facts about the basics—what is electricity, the need to respect its power and how to use it efficiently as they study, work and play.
Getting kids to show interest in these lessons isn’t easy. Just remember that what your kids learn from you today can be a lifesaver later when they encounter potential hazards, like downed power lines, in their path, play hide-and-seek behind the big metal electrical boxes in the neighborhood, or are tempted to clamber up a utility pole.
Gather your kids around the kitchen table—some of the best teachable moments about electrical safety can occur in and around your home. Look around. There are plenty of opportunities to demonstrate safety that are as close as the electrical outlet on your living room wall. For example, show kids how plugs work, and let them know that even if they are curious about the slits of an electrical outlet, nothing else should be placed inside. Each year about 2,400 children end up in the emergency room after suffering injuries caused by inserting objects—paper clips, pens, screws, nails, forks, hair pins, coins and more—into electrical outlets. That’s about seven kids per day who sustain injuries ranging from electric shock to burns.
But this isn’t the only electrical mishap that impacts kids. Our reliance on electronics and gadgets has left families at risk when they overcrowd electrical outlets, continue using frayed wires, place devices near liquids, or leave electronics on for long periods of time. Some of the same guidelines offer to help protect both kids and adults. We should all set good examples for our youngsters.
Supplement your lessons at home with resources. The Electrical Safety Foundational International (esfi.org) is also among the many national organizations offering free kits, videos and interactive online tools that make learning and practicing electrical safety fun for you and your children. And as they grow older, remember to keep teaching them about the power of electricity and how to use it safely.