photo of a cell phone chargingAppliances, tools, and devices that rely on electricity are everywhere in our daily lives—so much that it’s sometimes easy to overlook their potential risks to young children.

Jolyn Schneider, MSN, RN and Matt Slagel, BSN, RN with the University of Iowa Health Care Burn Treatment Center, offer some helpful information on how to keep children safe from electrical burns and electricity-related injuries:

Keep electrical outlets safe

  • Make sure electrical outlets in your home are not overloaded—this will help prevent fires or damage to the electrical system
  • Only use surge protectors and power strips that are certified with the nationally recognized “UL” (Underwriter’s Laboratory) symbol, which means the product has met accepted safety standards
  • Carefully follow instructions for plugging in appliances and devices
  • Purchase electric cord covers and outlet covers to avoid the risk of children chewing on cords or sticking their fingers or other objects in the sockets. The covers are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased at the Safety Store at University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital or most general merchandise or hardware stores.

Unplug phone chargers

Small children and infants can suffer severe electrical burns from chewing on charger cords. When you are not using your phone charger, be sure to unplug it and keep it out of reach from children.

Set timers for your lights

When it comes to holiday and decorative lights, consider setting them on a timer. This way, the outlets will be covered at all times and the lights will automatically shut off at bedtime or when you are not at home.

Keep electrical cords away from water sources

It is important to keep small appliances such as curling irons and blow dryers away from sinks and bathtubs. Whether it is in the kitchen or in the bathroom, appliances and water can be a very dangerous—even deadly—combination.

Use the right light bulbs

Be sure to install the proper light bulbs as indicated on lamps or overhead light fixtures. Using a light bulb with a higher wattage than recommended may cause a lamp or fixture to overheat, which can melt the socket holding the bulb and start a fire.

Don’t be afraid to call an electrician

If you’re experiencing recurring electrical problems, do not hesitate to call an electrician. It is much safer to have a professional handle the situation.

Inspect your electrical cords

It is important to check cords on all of your devices, appliances, lights, and tools. When inspecting the cords, check to see if the ends are frayed. Worn cords can be a serious fire hazard.

Stay away from power sources

Remind children to stay away from power lines and power boxes when playing outdoors. It’s also important that kids never throw anything at power lines or climb electrical power poles. These power sources are very dangerous and can cause severe internal injuries and external burns.

And as always, in the case of an injury or other emergency, call 911.