How to Baby Proof Electrical Outlets

If your house or apartment was built prior to 2014, odds are that it doesn’t have the new “Tamper-resistant” electrical outlets and will need to be baby proofed. Tamper-resistant receptacles have spring-loaded shutters that automatically close when not in use. Force must be applied to both openings at the same time to open the shutters. You can tell if you already have “Tamper-resistant” outlets by either the internal plastic shutters or the letters TR stamped on the outside.

You have several options for baby proofing electrical outlets. You can upgraded your existing outlets to the “Tamper-resistant” versions or you can buy a variety of covers that insert into the existing outlets.


How to upgrade standard electrical outlets to Tamper Resistant Outlets

The 2014 _National Electrical Code®(NEC®)_  requires new and renovated dwellings to have tamper-resistant (TR) receptacles. The new receptacles are inexpensive at around $1 each. The largest cost will be labor. However, you can perform the installation yourself with only a few tools and some basic knowledge of household electrical safety. You’ll need a voltage tester as well as both a phillips and flathead screw driver. A book such as Black and Decker’s The Complete Guide to Wiring, provides simple instructions on this and many other household electrical tasks you can perform yourself.

You can also follow these free instructions online for how to change an electrical outlet.

For unused outlets use simple and inexpensive plug protectors

For infrequently used outlets, simple plug protectors or outlet covers, are inexpensive, fast and simple to install.  A 36 pack sells for around $3.49.  They simply plug-in to the wall outlet and are difficult to remove without a sturdy fingernail or a small screwdriver.

For in-use outlets use LectraLock – Baby Safety Electrical Outlet Cover

The LectraLock outlet covers are great for covering outlets with lamps, alarm clocks or other items plugged into them. If you can’t hide these plugs behind heavy furniture your child will be drawn to play with them. These covers are easy to install by replacing your standard outlet wall plate. They are difficult to defeat unless you know exactly where to press, and even then, you’ll need a bit of force to open them up. You can use these even if you have tamper-resistant outlets to prevent your child from unplugging the electrical wires and attempting to play with them. They come in multiple colors and sizes to match your home.

Use Legrand/Wiremold CordMate to hide cables and wires

A product such as CordMate attaches loose cables and wires flush to the wall to prevent your child from pulling on them. This can help prevent injury from falling objects or prevent your child from getting tangled in really long cables.