This article is from the Baby Proofing FAQ, by Sandra Smith, email@example.com with numerous contributions by others.
From: Andrew Daviel
First, a bit of background.
In Britain, where I grew up, the household electricity is about 240 Volts.
The electric outlets are somewhat kid-proofed, in that the live and neutral
sockets have shutters on them operated by the ground pin, which is longer
than the others. Some of the plugs on appliances have insulating material on
the side of the pins, too, so that sliding a metal object behind an inserted
plug is relatively safe. On the debit side, until recently moulded plugs were
very rare, and most appliance plugs were fitted to the cord by
people with little aptitude and inadequate tools.
In Canada, where I am living now, the electicity is 110 Volt (still lethal),
and the outlets are cheaper, consisting of a round socket for the ground and
two slots for the live and neutral. The slots are too small for fingers but
just right for paperclips, knives, etc. The stores sell a wide variety of
gadgets to kid-proof your outlets. We have dozens of little plastic
two-legged things that plug into the slots (for places we hardly ever use
the outlet), clamp-like devices (for places we never take the appliance out,
like an electric clock), rotating shutters (for places where appliances are
plugged in frequently, but not for very long, like the vacuum cleaner), and
lockable boxes that go over the outlet (for places where appliances stay in
for some time but not continuously, like the computer. And then you can get
Ground-Fault Interrupter (GFI or ELCB) breakers, which are supposed to trip
if current goes down the live wire and not all of it came back the neutral
wire, which we have in the bathroom and outside the house. I have never
tried one to see if it works (by sticking my finger on a live wire), though
supposedly it will cut the current before too much happens to you.
Now, what I was going to say:
We had a sewing machine set up on a table. The cord was secured in the outlet
with one of the above-mentioned gadgets. Our 14-month old wanders in and
pulls the cord out of the sewing machine. We were right there and took it
away from her. Someone else might not be so lucky. There are many appliances
where the cord has a socket on the end which mates with a plug on the
appliance (sewing machines, computers and electric kettles spring to mind).
The holes in the socket are too small for fingers, but it is just possible
that a toddler might put the end in his/her mouth, and be badly burnt if
Later I secured the socket permanently to the machine with a Ty-Rap (a tough
plastic whatsit that electricians use to secure cables, like the police on TV
use to handcuff people). I think the machine is too heavy for her to pull
down. I have also seen gadgets to clamp appliance cords to tables.
So, yet another thing to look for when you toddler-proof your home.