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Discuss electrical safety with kids

Often when the topic of electronics and children comes up, the conversation gravitates toward the pros and cons of screen time. However, an often-overlooked topic is how to talk to your children about the potential safety hazards associated with electronics, sources of electricity and their environment in general. As soon as children can walk, parents and caregivers should discuss with them how to be safe around electricity, both inside the home and when playing outdoors.

Clay Electric Co-operative and Safe Electricity recommend sharing these outdoor safety tips with children:

  • Do not touch or go near a sagging or downed power line. Instead, tell an adult to call the electric cooperative to report it.
  • Never climb trees near power lines.
  • Fly kites, model airplanes, remote-control flying toys and drones in large, open areas, such as parks or fields, far away from power lines. If any of these items (or any object) gets caught in a power line, never try to retrieve it. Tell an adult to call the electric co-op for help.
  • Never fly kites or other toys when a thunderstorm may be approaching.
  • Never climb a utility pole or tower. The electricity carried through this equipment could kill you.
  • Never go into an electric substation for any reason. Electric substations contain high-voltage equipment that can kill. Never rescue a pet or retrieve a toy that goes inside the fenced area surrounding a substation. Tell an adult to call the electric co-op instead.
  • Stay away from outdoor electrical equipment marked “keep out,” “high voltage” or “danger.”
  • Do not play, sit or climb on a padmount transformer, a.k.a. green box. (Note to adults: While green boxes are typically safe to be around, it is better to leave this equipment alone just in case a box has become unlocked, vandalized or have become damaged in some way. Please call us to report an unlocked cabinet or any signs of damage.)

Additionally, share the following indoor safety tips with children:

  • Do not play with electrical cords or plugs.
  • Younger children should ask an adult before plugging in or unplugging something. In addition, never pull or tug on cords. Instead, gently pull the plug out of the wall by grasping the plug.
  • Do not touch or use cords that appear damaged.
  • Keep cords away from heat and water.
  • Never stick fingers, tongues, toys or other objects into electrical outlets or light sockets.
  • Never sleep with phones, tablets or other electronics in the bed or under a pillow. The electronic device can overheat or experience a short in the charging cable, causing bedding to catch on fire, burns to the skin or electric shock.
  • Never play with electronic toys or gadgets in the bathtub or near water.
  • Never touch appliances, switches, outlets, sockets, cords or plugs with wet hands or while standing in water. Parents should keep towels near bathroom and kitchen sinks so little hands can be dried right after they are washed.

Many electrical injuries and fires can be prevented. It is never too early or late to start talking about electrical safety with children and loved ones. For more information about electrical safety, visit SafeElectricity.org.