The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that, at the time of publication, 3,900 injuries are associated with electric sockets and are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year. From these injuries, about one-third occur when a young child slips an object into an electrical receptacle outlet, resulting in burns to the fingers or hand. Knowing the dangers of electric sockets can help you take safety precautions.
Make a socket plan when you have a toddler in the home. Decide which sockets you will use on a regular basis and which sockets you will not use. Plan to use sockets that can be hidden behind a sofa or a chair or are out of reach from the toddler. Do not pull a plug out of a used socket over and over again. Prongs that become so loose that a portion of the prongs can be seen outside of the socket pose a fire hazard. Drapes, furniture or clothing near to the socket could catch on fire.
Water guns and water squirter toys may seem like innocent play things, but such toys are dangerous when a toddler can find an uncovered electrical receptacle outlet. Toddlers can squirt water into an uncovered outlet with these toys. Alternatively, toddler boys who are in the process of being potty trained have been known to urinate on electrical socket holes to hide the "evidence." Water or urine can emit smoke or sparks, causing burns to the carpet or burn injuries to the toddler. Also cover bathroom sockets as many toddlers use water-squirting bath toys and play with water in the bathroom.
Toddlers enjoy sticking things into electrical sockets, such as hair pins, keys, nails, pins and pencils. Toddlers find items within carpeting and on floors that vacuum cleaners do not pick up and are constantly sticking things in their mouths or trying to stick things in electrical sockets. About 100 children die each year by electrocution, according to 2005 data from Marshall Brain. So cover your outlets to keep your child from sticking something inside of them.
Loose, cracked or old electrical receptacle outlets pose as much of a danger as not having a socket on the wall at all. Some home improvement stores sell childproof electrical receptacle outlets. Check the condition of all the outlets in the house and replace any outlets that are old, damaged or loose. If an outlet is loose, a toddler will find it and play with it, work it off of the wall or stick things into the wall socket -- posing a real danger to the toddler and to the home.