Following a recent spate of house fires around Melbourne, parents are being urged to ensure their homes are not putting children at risk of electrical-induced injuries.

Increased use of radiators, electric blankets, kettles and other appliances can easily overstress electrical circuits and power points. In addition, the proliferation of media based equipment including computer tablets, music devices, and mobile phones has resulted in an unprecedented incidence of loose cabling.

The results – an inferno, electrocution or strangulation – are devastating and the time to act is now, according to child home safety expert, Noel Caulfield.

“Figures show that almost 2000 Victorian children are treated in hospitals for fire-related incidents each year,” Mr Caulfield said. “Injuries can be permanent and are all the more lamentable because they are entirely avoidable. Being cautious saves lives.”

While electrical switchboards in new homes are protected by residual current devices, which immediately cut power supply upon sensing a surge or drain of electricity, the majority of houses are not adequately equipped.

“Any household with young children should be fitted with an R.C.D. immediately,” Mr Caulfield stressed.
“Moreover, our Homesafe Kids inspections show that 60 per cent of Victorian homes do not contain fire extinguishers or fire blankets and 33 per cent have fire alarms that do not work. This is extremely worrying.”

Tips to keep children safe around electricity include:

  • Check that an R.C.D. is installed to your switchboard
  • Insert power point covers to all unused sockets
  • Isolate or secure loose wiring
  • Never overload or “piggy-back” electrical sockets
  • Isolate heaters and dangerous appliances

If you are concerned that your power consumption could be overloading your switchboard, consult a qualified electrician immediately.

Discerning parents can contact Homesafe Kids to conduct an inspection and fit devices to make their house more child-friendly, or alternatively, download a D.I.Y. kit.