Child Safety Week 2015: Some facts and tips on electrical safety at home

Child Safety Week 2015 runs from 1st June to 7th June. So this week, HSEWise will focus on children and keeping them safe and healthy. We are kicking off with Electrical Safety.

About a week ago, a girl in Ghana got electrocuted – she fell asleep with her power bank lying on her chest and plugged into the socket so that when power came back on, it would charge it while she slept. Unfortunately, when the power came back on, there was allegedly a power surge which led to her electrocution and death. There is a graphic image of her dead body all over the internet but out of respect for her and her family, I have chosen not to display this photograph on my site and of course I won’t be providing any link to the image or news sites displaying this image. Usually, I don’t like to view these kind of images or related videos but I stumbled on this photo so easily and kept wondering how and why the image was all over the internet. According to news sources, her parents found her dead body in the morning. What a horror to wake up to! Your own child, your flesh and blood taken away in such a manner? This left me so heartbroken as I keep wondering how her parents are coping. This is a very sad occurrence, never seen or heard of anything of this magnitude and I can only pray it never happens again. The truth is it can happen to anyone. You have no idea how many times I have slept off while typing a message or chatting with friends so I can relate totally with how this girl slept off so suddenly.

Sadly, this fatal accident happened approximately a week before Child Safety Week and it now forms the basis on which this article is based.

This article is going to focus on electrical safety in the home – keeping yourself and children safe. I have purposely written this article to help protect children because I see a lot of adults with very bad electrical safety knowledge (I will go into more details on this soon) and this can easily be passed on to kids. Kids learn mostly by watching. They see what you do, they follow suit. Please read this article carefully and be educated.

Electricity can kill. Apart from electric shocks, electricity is also a major cause of accidental fires. These days, we have more electrical appliances in our homes than we did many years back. Now in addition to TV and DVD players, we have game consoles, microwave, computers and thousands of mobile phones that need charging up to 3 times a day thanks to spending lots of time on Whatsapp, BBM, Instagram and other social network sites. With advancement in technology, we obviously have more electrical equipments and of course the risk of electrical accidents has also gone up.

So what can one do to teach and maintain safety among your children? Here are some useful tips.

1. Teach your children not to spread clothes on heaters be it electrical or not. I remember when I was at Uni, a friend of mine stayed over one night and spread a wet towel on my heater after having a bath the next morning before going out. I woke up to find my room was a little smokey. After a little investigation, I discovered the smoke was coming from my heater. The towel was so dry and crisp and was already getting brown. If I had continued sleeping, I don’t know what would have happened to me that day, but I did learn a lesson – never spread cloths on your heaters especially of they are on or have been set to come on at some point.

2. Teach them how to use plugs and sockets. An extension socket should not be loaded with a bunch of plugs. They could result in a fire. Electrical cords should be neatly tucked away to prevent trips and falls. Your pets are also at risk – my sister’s dog once chewed to pieces her iPad charger. Luckily it didn’t have live electricity running through it. Children should be taught not to use wet hands to touch electrical equipments or sockets. If you have a child that is too young to understand these things then make sure electrical wires and equipments are well away from his or her reach. You can also use child safety plugs to prevent access to sockets.

3. Keep electricity conductors far from reach of children. I remember as a child I was playing with a metal hanger and pushed it into some kind of switch. I got the rudest electric shock of my life. I can never forget that day. I can’t remember how I got rescued but I remember being given lots of milk to drink 🙂 . Anything that lets electricity pass through it should be kept away from children. Remember to educate your children on why they shouldn’t be playing with these objects.

4. Teach children not to climb fences. Some houses in Nigeria have electrical wires on their fences to ward off burglars and armed robbers. This can kill anyone who comes in contact with it. Teach your children not to climb fences. Children are innocent in their thinking and do not recognise danger so please don’t assume your child knows electricity risk when they see one – always educate them.

5. Lead by example. This point is targeted at adults. Children learn real quick and often practice what they learn. Like the girl who got electrocuted in her sleep, many adults in Nigeria are fond of plugging their phones, tablets and laptops while they go to bed or leave the house in the hope of it charging when power supply is back on. I do not need any more evidence to show that this is unsafe. I had this problem with one of my sisters who used to leave the TV extension box on all the time whether the TV is being watch or not. I had to repeatedly tell her to always make sure the power on the socket is off once the TV is turned off or when there is a power cut. My reason for this was based on fires I had heard of when I lived in London that were caused by faulty electrical appliances like TV and even a fridge. These fires resulted in loss of lives and I didn’t want a repeat of this in my home. It can be frustrating when you have no more power left on your phone but teach kids and teenagers the dangers of electricity especially the unstable kind we have in Africa.

Sometimes we might forget to switch off all electrical equipments or plugs when there is a power cut, before going out or going to bed, do a quick check to ensure all sockets are switched off. It is very easy to do. I do this all the time and it can easily become a part of you if you do it often.

Rest In Peace Blandine – so sorry you had to go this way.

#ChildSafetyWeek

Dear readers, #BeHSEWise