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Household Safety: Electrical, Heating, and Cooling Systems

These simple safety tips can help protect kids from injuries due to electrical equipment and appliances, as well as heating and cooling systems.

Electrical Equipment

  • Cover unused outlets with plastic safety plugs.
  • Don't run electrical wires under rugs or carpet.
  • Use cord holders to keep longer cords fastened against walls.
  • Unplug extension cords when they're not in use.
  • Don't overload electrical sockets.
  • Use GFCIs (ground fault circuit interrupters) and/or AFCIs (arc fault circuit interrupters), which prevent electrical shock and fire by shutting off faulty circuits. Consider getting an electrical inspection to make sure wiring is up to code. If you rent, you might have to ask the supervisor or building manager for this.
  • Make sure anything you have near the ceiling is not blocking any sprinklers you may have.

Electric Appliances and Devices

  • Get rid of equipment and appliances with old or frayed cords and extension cords that look damaged.
  • Tie extra cord from lamps or other electrical equipment with a twist-tie to prevent injury from tripping over or chewing on cords. You also can buy a holder or spool specially designed to hide extra cord.
  • If any appliances spark, smell unusual, or overheat, replace them or ask an electrician or your apartment manager to repair them.
  • Put TV and stereo equipment against walls so small hands can't reach back surfaces or cords. It's best to attach TVs to the wall so they can't tip forward.
  • Check electronic toys often for signs of wear and tear. Throw away or repair any object that sparks, feels hot, or smells odd. Replace batteries in electronic toys regularly and look for any signs of corrosion in the toys.
  • Clean the clothes dryer vent of lint after each use.
  • Make sure that light fixtures use bulbs that are the correct wattage.
  • Make sure all wires to seasonal lighting, such as holiday tree lights, are properly insulated (make sure they don't have exposed or broken wiring). Tie any extra cord with a twist-tie and unplug lights when they're not in use.

Heating & Cooling Systems

  • Cover all radiators and baseboard heaters with childproof screens.
  • Secure gas fireplaces with a valve cover or key.
  • Keep a screen or other barrier in front of all working fireplaces when in use.
  • Schedule regular chimney cleanings.
  • Keep electric space heaters at least 3 feet (91 centimeters) from beds, curtains, or anything flammable. Never place a space heater where a child or pet could accidentally knock it over.
  • Tips to keep your HVAC safe:
    • Consider vent covers, which can be nailed or screwed into place so kids can't move them. Vent screens over floor vents can help prevent kids from dropping small items into them.
    • If your system uses remote controls (for example, for the thermostat), keep these out of reach as most use button batteries that can be dangerous if swallowed. If you can, use apps to control thermostats and systems. If your child uses your phone, be sure the app that controls your thermostat is secure and can’t be played with.
    • Mount wall thermostats where kids can't reach them.
    • If you have central air conditioning or a heat pump, protect the outdoor unit (the condenser). Consider planting bushes or putting a small fence around it to keep children away. The plants or fence should be about 3–5 feet away from the condenser.
    • Have your HVAC system inspected by a professional every year.

Even with these safety tips in place, kids still can get hurt and accidents do happen. But being prepared will help you to act quickly and confidently if an emergency happens.

Reviewed by: Melanie L. Pitone, MD
Date Reviewed: 05-08-2022

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