On average, 110 kids under 15 end up in the emergency room each year in Ontario because of an electrical injury. Half are under the age of five. (2021 Ontario Electrical Safety Report)
Minor zaps that don’t result in serious injury can go unnoticed, but the American Burn Association notes that low-voltage shocks can also have long-term effects such as pins and needles, numbness, memory loss and anxiety.
No shock is a safe shock. Always seek medical attention because what can seem like a little zap can have serious consequences.
Safety tips for parents
Replace any missing or broken cover plates. Outlet covers create a barrier between children and exposed wires.
Install child-safety outlets (tamper-resistant receptacles) to protect younger children from shocks. They have shutters that cover the plug slots and help prevent little fingers or objects from going into the outlet.
Keep cords away from little hands and mouths. Small kids often want to explore new things by putting them in their mouths.
Teach older children how to plug in and unplug safely. Never overload outlets by plugging in too many cords. Use an approved power bar that has surge protection instead. When it’s time to unplug, don’t yank the cords from the wall.
Replace frayed cords. Tape won’t protect kids from a shock. Extension cords, which should only be used temporarily, are prone to cracking and fraying, which can lead to a shock or fire.
Install Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs), the ones with the reset button, in any room with water (such as bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms). Water and electricity can be a lethal mix.