Article
Kids. You've got to love the little rug rats. It's so much fun to 
watch as they scoot around the floor. For years, my wife ran a childcare
 service from our home.<br><br>We also have three 
grandkids of our own, all of them girls. The oldest is seven (going on 
15) and the other two are four-year-old twins.

Child Safety … Is It Worth the Money?

Steve Maurer, IME
Kids. You've got to love the little rug rats. It's so much fun to watch as they scoot around the floor. For years, my wife ran a childcare service from our home.

We also have three grandkids of our own, all of them girls. The oldest is seven (going on 15) and the other two are four-year-old twins.

Double trouble!

That makes for some interesting situations, to say the least.

But when you mix children and animals together, it gets very entertaining. For example, one little boy snuck up behind my poor old dog, brandishing a pencil. You can probably imagine what happened next!

If a kid finds a hole or opening … something's going in there.

That brings us to our topic for discussion: tamper resistant receptacles or TRRs. These receptacles have "doors" under the openings to the electrical contacts. There are several ways this is done, usually with a set of springs or series of cams that operate the doors.

In any event, the concept is that the receptacle guards won't open unless both doors are activated simultaneously. This means that should a child try to stuff a key or pipe cleaner or bobby pin into a slot, they won't contact a live circuit.

By the way, all three of those are examples that actually happened with children under the age of 6. This comes from a May 1, 2017 NFPA fact sheet entitled "Injuries Associated with Electrical Receptacles."

In that same fact sheet: an estimated 5,500 people went to the emergency room with injuries related to electrical outlets in 2015. Of those injured, about 1,500 were children under the age of 5, or more than four times their 6% of the total population.

Sure, not all of them came from poking objects into outlets.

But … why take a chance a child won't do that?

Are TRRs really that effective?
The National Fire Protection Association thinks so. In fact, the 2008 edition of NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code® required TRRs in new and renovated home. They felt this was the most effective way to prevent those injuries.

And in 2017, that requirement was expanded to include other buildings where children are likely to be present. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Hotels and motels
  • Hospitals
  • Apartments
And don't forget … your children may be all grown up and out of the house (hopefully). But do your grandkids come over for visits?

Mine do.

Occupancies change … but the danger remains the same. According to another NFPA paper, approximately 2,400 children suffer severe shock and burns from sticking stuff into receptacles.
And that statistic includes approximately six to 12 child fatalities.

Are you ready to take that risk?

Again … Is child safety worth the extra cash?
Now you might think that sticking those plastic hole plugs into the receptacles is safe enough.
Think … again.

A study done by Temple University shows kids are smarter than we think. They found that 100% of 2 through 4 year-olds were able to remove one type of cap within 10 seconds!

Tamper resistant outlets are permanent solutions to an ongoing problem.

Not every outlet must be protected TRRs. Some exceptions are:
  • Outlets more than 5 ½ feet above the floor
  • Outlets installed in luminaires, and
  • Outlets for dedicated appliances — such as refrigerators — that can't easily be moved.
I recently checked my favorite home improvement store. A simple TRR will cost you five to 10 bucks. Buy them in bulk and you save even more. You can also get them in GFCI, AFCI and AF/GF configurations.

But even if they were more expensive, it would be worth installing them for safety's sake.
Now you may be like me and have never met the parents of a child that got injured or killed by sticking something metallic into an unprotected receptacle.

But you know …

I hope I never do.
Photo courtesy of Eaton Wiring Solutions
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