With so much freedom of movement and time to discover the world around them, our kids cannot be under constant supervision, and a single moment alone with an electrical gadget can be dangerous. So, the sooner they know the basic electricity etiquette, the sooner your peace of mind can ensue!
1. Asking for permission
When they are just getting started with various electrical appliances, it’s important that your simple, but consistent explanations help them understand which items they can use on their own, and which require your supervision. To that end, tell them “If you want to use the toaster, call mommy or daddy, we’ll do it together”, and make sure they follow through.
You needn’t instill fear into your kids when it comes to using these devices – caution is more than enough, and telling them the basic dangers of improper use should also be put simply, so that they know which actions require your steady hand.
2. Always have an adult around
There are specific times of day when your kids will use certain electrical devices, or you will be the one handling them around your kids. In both cases, observing them, giving them simple instructions and helping them use these items with greater care can teach them proper electricity manners.
For instance, if you see them trying to pull out an electrical cable out of the socket instead of pulling the plug, explain to them that they shouldn’t tug the cord, but wiggle the plug until it’s loose, and then remind them never to touch the metal ends of the plug. To make sure they remember and apply these and similar instructions, rinse and repeat!
3. Handling emergencies
You could step out to pick up the groceries, or you may be stuck in an elevator, but if your child is alone in your home even very briefly, and something goes awry with the electricity in your home – such as a blackout – provide appropriate phone numbers, teach them to call a 24-hour electrician and ask for help.
Sometimes you alone won’t be able to handle an emergency situation, or there might be an issue in the middle of the night and your child could be scared, so they should recognize the importance of leaving serious repairs to professionals and not tamper with electricity while waiting.
4. Basic safety rules
Teach your kids that water and electricity should never go hand in hand, and if they do need to use a safe, simple appliance which they’re allowed to on their own, they should never do so with their hands wet. Store your appliances away from water sources such as bath tubs and sinks, and preferably away from your child’s reach, so they need to ask for your help to begin with.
Teach them to check if the cords of a device have any tears or rips – in which case they need to seek your help without switching it on. Use outlet covers, but also teach them not to touch outlets, and to recognize which plugs fit into which outlets. When it comes to simple tasks such as changing a light bulb, always remind them to ask for your help, and remind them to always switch the light off before replacing the bulb.
5. Recognizing outdoor dangers
Whenever you see an opportunity, use it to teach your kids proper behavioral patterns even outside of your own home. For example, when you’re passing by a construction site and there’s a sign saying “Danger: High Voltage”, explain it to your kids and remind them to always cross the street and keep away from such areas.
Point out a transformer so that they know how it looks like and remind them never to touch it. The same goes for climbing trees near power lines, or utility poles that could cause them harm. In case of a thunderstorm, teach your kids to always come inside, and if they ever see some of their peers doing something with electric devices, remind them that it’s important to call a grownup they trust.