Some childproofing measures, such as protecting windows or electrical outlets, apply to the entire house. Here we’ll look at these, beginning with electrical outlets since these pose a serious hazard to small children. Then, please see the listing at top right for information on childproofing stairs, doors, and windows.

Home Electrical Devices

Since 1984, the Uniform Building Code has required ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) in bathrooms; more recently, they’ve been required for kitchens and outdoor circuits, too. The reasoning is that these are the likeliest areas, because of their proximity to water, where serious electrical shock could occur.

GFCI Electrical Receptacle ©Don Vandervort, HomeTips

GFCI receptacles sense a leak in the current and break the circuit almost instantaneously, thus preventing electrical shock. If wired correctly in line, one unit can serve several receptacles. Or, you can replace ordinary circuit breakers that serve your kitchen, bath, and outdoor receptacles with GFCI breakers. See more about GFCI receptacles.

Electrical Cords

All electrical cords throughout the house must be kept in good repair first and foremost to avoid the potential for fire. Worn, cloth- covered cords are especially dangerous, so replace them with up-to-date rugged plastic cords.

Electrical cords must be kept out of easy access. A baby or toddler can receive severe electrical burns and permanent scars from chewing on one or may topple a heavy appliance by tugging on one.

Eliminate extension cords from view wherever possible by rearranging furniture. If you must use an extension cord, unplug it when not in use. Where practical, affix electrical cord to baseboards with staples or clear masking tape. If two or more cords run to the same location, cover them with a cord sleeve.

Electrical Outlets

There are three types of safety devices for electrical outlets: outlet caps, offset cover plates, and protective covers. Whichever type you choose, be sure to protect all outlets your child can reach.

Although young children can remove outlet caps, caps do discourage them from inserting objects into unused outlets. Spring-loaded offset cover plates block direct access to outlets. To insert a plug, twist 1/4 turn clockwise until the holes in the plate and the outlet line up. Protective covers prevent accidental shocks. Covers flip out of the way for insertion or removal of a plug.

childproofing electrical receptacles
Plastic receptacle protectors keep kids away from electrical hazards.

TIP: Manufacturers of GFCIs recommend checking the devices monthly by triggering the test button.


Baby-proofing a Baby or Toddler Room
Buying Safe Baby & Toddler Toys
Childproofing Decks & Porches
Childproofing Home Office or Activity Areas
Childproofing Room-by-Room
Childproofing Stairs
Child-Safe Fences & Gates
Child Safety in Garage & Shop
How to Buy a Safe Baby Crib
How to Buy Safe Baby Strollers, Carriers & Walkers

Get a Pre-Screened Local Home Childproofing Pro

Author Image
About Don Vandervort
An avid builder and remodeler, Don Vandervort has developed his expertise for more than 30 years, as Building Editor for Sunset Books, Senior Editor at Home Magazine, author of more than 30 home improvement books, and writer of countless magazine articles. He appeared for 3 seasons on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert for several years. Don founded HomeTips in 1996. Read more about Don Vandervort