Caring for Our Childen, 3rd Edition (CFOC3)

Chapter 5: Facilities, Supplies, Equipment, and Environmental Health

5.2 Quality of the Outdoor and Indoor Environment

5.2.4 Electrical Fixtures and Outlets

5.2.4.1: Electrical Service


Facilities should be supplied with electric service. Outlets and fixtures should be installed and connected to the source of electric energy in a manner that meets the National Electrical Code, as amended by local electrical codes (if any), and as certified by an electrical code inspector.
RATIONALE
Proper installation of outlets and fixtures helps to prevent injury.
COMMENTS
State or local electrical codes may apply. For further information, see the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) National Electrical Code and the NFPA 101: Life Safety Code from the NFPA (1).
TYPE OF FACILITY
Center, Large Family Child Care Home
REFERENCES
  1. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). 2009. NFPA 101: Life Safety Code. 2009 ed. Quincy, MA: NFPA.

5.2.4.2: Safety Covers and Shock Protection Devices for Electrical Outlets


All electrical outlets accessible to children who are not yet developmentally at a kindergarten grade level of learning should be a type called “tamper-resistant electrical outlets.” These types of outlets look like standard wall outlets but contain an internal shutter mechanism that prevents children from sticking objects like hairpins, keys, and paperclips into the receptacle (2). This spring-loaded shutter mechanism only opens when equal pressure is applied to both shutters such as when an electrical plug is inserted (2,3).

In existing child care facilities that do not have “tamper-resistant electrical outlets,” outlets should have “safety covers” that are attached to the electrical outlet by a screw or other means to prevent easy removal by a child. “Safety plugs” should not be used since they can be removed from an electrical outlet by children (2,3).

All newly installed or replaced electrical outlets that are accessible to children should use “tamper-resistant electrical outlets.”

In areas where electrical products might come into contact with water, a special type of outlet called Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) should be installed (2). A GFCI is designed to trip before a deadly electrical shock can occur (1). To ensure that GFCIs are functioning correctly, they should be tested at least monthly (2). GFCIs are also available in a tamper-resistant design.

RATIONALE
Tamper-resistant electrical outlets or securely attached safety covers prevent children from placing fingers or sticking objects into exposed electrical outlets and reduce the risk of electrical shock, electrical burns, and potential fires (2). GFCIs provide protection from electrocution when an electric outlet or electric product may come into contact with water (1).

Approximately 2,400 children are injured annually by inserting objects into the slots of electrical outlets (2,3). The majority of these injuries involve children under the age of six (2,3).

Plastic safety plugs inserted into electric outlets are not the safest option since they can easily be removed by children and, depending on their size, present a potential choking hazard if placed in a child’s mouth (3).

COMMENTS
One type of outlet cover replaces the outlet face plate with a plate that has a spring-loaded outlet cover, which will stay in place when the receptacle is not in use. For receptacles where the facility does not intend to unplug the appliance, a more permanent cap-type cover that screws into the outlet receptacle is available. Several effective outlet safety devices are available in home hardware and infant/children stores (4).
TYPE OF FACILITY
Center, Large Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS
5.2.4.3 Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter for Outlets Near Water
REFERENCES
  1. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). 2010. NFPA 70: National electrical code. 2011 ed. Quincy, MA: NFPA.
  2. Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI). 2008. Know the dangers in your older home Rosslyn, VA: ESFI. http://files.esfi.org/file/Know-The-Dangers-of-Your-Older-Home.pdf
  3. National Fire Protection Association. National electrical code fact sheet: Tamper-resistant electrical receptacles. http://www.nfpa.org/public-education/by-topic/top-causes-of-fire/electrical/tamper-resistant-electrical-receptacles.
  4. National Electrical Manufacturers Association. Real safety with tamper-resistant receptacles.http://www.childoutletsafety.org.

5.2.4.3: Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter for Outlets Near Water


All electrical outlets located within six feet of a sink or other water source must have a ground-fault circuit-interrupter (GFCI), which should be tested at least once every three months using the test button located on the device.
RATIONALE
This provision eliminates shock hazards. GFCIs provide protection from electrocution when an electric outlet or electric product may come into contact with water (1).
COMMENTS
Electrical receptacles of the type often found in bathrooms of new homes have a GFCI built into the receptacle. The GFCI does not necessarily have to be near the sink. An electrical receptacle can be protected by a special type of circuit breaker (which has a built-in GFCI) in the electrical panel (1).
TYPE OF FACILITY
Center, Large Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS
5.2.4.2 Safety Covers and Shock Protection Devices for Electrical Outlets
REFERENCES
  1. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). 2011. NFPA 70: National electrical code. 2011 ed. Quincy, MA: NFPA.

5.2.4.4: Location of Electrical Devices Near Water


No electrical device or apparatus accessible to children should be located so it could be plugged into an electrical outlet while a person is in contact with a water source, such as a sink, tub, shower area, water table, or swimming pool.
RATIONALE
Contact with a water source while using an electrical device provides a path for electricity through the person who is using the device (1,2). This can lead to electrical injury.
TYPE OF FACILITY
Center, Large Family Child Care Home
REFERENCES
  1. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). 2011. NFPA 70: National electrical code. 2011 ed. Quincy, MA: NFPA.
  2. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). CPSC safety alert: Install Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Protection for Pools, Spas and Hot Tubs. http://www.cpsc.gov//PageFiles/118868/5039.pdf.

5.2.4.5: Extension Cords


The use of extension cords should be discouraged; however, when used, they should bear the listing mark of a nationally recognized testing laboratory, and should not be placed through doorways, under rugs or carpeting, behind wall-hangings, or across water-source areas. Electrical cords (extension and appliance) should not be frayed or overloaded.
RATIONALE
Electrical malfunction is a major cause of ignition of fatal house fires. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that from 2002-2004 extension cords and other electric cords were the ignition sources of fires that caused an average of sixty deaths and 150 burn injuries each year (1). Extension cords should not be accessible to children, whether in use or when temporarily not in use but plugged in. There is risk of electric shock to a child who may poke a metal object into the extension cord socket (2).
COMMENTS
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a Link to a list of Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories at http://www.osha.gov/dts/otpca/nrtl/index.html#nrtls.
TYPE OF FACILITY
Center, Large Family Child Care Home
REFERENCES
  1. Chowdhury, R., M. Greene, D. Miller. 2008. 2003-2005 residential fire loss estimates. Washington, DC: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. http://www.cpsc.gov/library/fire05.pdf.
  2. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Extension cords fact sheet. http://www.ltadm.latech.edu/vpadmaff/saftopc38.pdf.

5.2.4.6: Electrical Cords


Electrical cords should be placed beyond children’s reach.
RATIONALE
Severe injuries have occurred in child care when children have pulled appliances like crock-pots down onto themselves by pulling on the cord (1). Injuries have occurred in child care when children pulled appliances such as tape players down on themselves by pulling on the cord (2). When children chew on an appliance cord, they can reach the wires and suffer severe disfiguring mouth injuries (3).
TYPE OF FACILITY
Center, Large Family Child Care Home
REFERENCES
  1. Lowell, G., K. Quinlan, L. J. Gottlieb. 2008. Preventing unintentional scald burns: Moving beyond tap water. Pediatrics 122:799-804.
  2. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. CPSC safety alert. The tipping point: Preventing TV, furniture, and appliance tip-over deaths and injuries. http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/5004.pdf.
  3. Healthy Children. 2010. Health issues: Electric shock. http://www
    .healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/injuries-emergencies/pages/Electric-Shock.aspx.