The good news is that children are at very little risk from electric shocks. Electrical sockets are designed to be safe. But electricity can be dangerous in other ways. Old electrical appliances and wiring, and children playing with electrical appliances, can cause burns and house fires.

Parents should be aware of how much their children have learned, and what they are capable of doing with electrical appliances.

CAPT’s age-targeted leaflets give parents an indication of what their child is capable of doing.

How dangerous is electricity?

  • Serious electric shocks are not as common as many people think. In 2010-11, 60 children (under 15) were admitted to hospital after an electric shock. This compares to 47,000 under 15s admitted to hospital as a result of falls.
  • The main danger with electricity is that it can cause house fires. Faulty electrics start up to one in six house fires. Causes include loose wiring, damaged cables and leads, and faulty or misused electrical appliances.

How can accidents with electricity be prevented?

If parents are aware of the dangers of electricity, they can teach their children, as they grow up, to be aware of the dangers too. But younger children might not know the dangers, and they become curious before they know what they are playing with. Many parents might not know that their toddler is able to plug in an iron or electric fire.

Most accidents that happen with children and electricity can be prevented by keeping potentially dangerous devices out of young children’s reach and away from water. For example:

  • Electrical devices such as hairdryers and mains-operated radios should be kept out of the bathroom.

Other situations, where electrical equipment fails or is used incorrectly, can be prevented by educating parents about the right way to use electrical appliances. For example:

  • Plug sockets should not be overloaded. Be aware not just of how many plugs are going into one socket, but also how much power they are using. Kettles and irons use more power than lamps and even TVs.
  • Older electrical appliances can cause house fires. Check plugs, sockets and wires for scorching or fraying. If there’s a problem, use a registered electrician to fix them.

More information

For more information on electrical safety, visit the Electrical Safety Council website.

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