BIG scare - ds almost electrocuted himself - how do I explain the danger? (long)

(35 Posts)
mollipops Wed 22-Jan-03 05:47:06

Wasn't sure which topic this belonged in, but I guess behaviour is close... Yesterday ds (3yr 9m) and dd (6yr 2m) were playing in his room, seemed to be playing nicely while I did housework. When I went in to check on them I was horrified to find that the powerpoint/socket was blackened and the plug on his lamp was also black and had a 10c piece "welded" onto one of the pins. He had put the 10c between the 2 pins and then plugged it in and turned it on! LUCKILY we have a fairly new house and have a safety switch installed (don't know if you have them - they cut of the power in 1000th of a second in instances like this). It "flicked the switch" on that fuse and all the powerpoints in part of the house stopped working til I turned it back on.

Coincidentally I had already arranged for an electrician to come today to install some lights and powerpoints...he said that the safety switch almost definitely saved ds' life. He had to replace the powerpoint as it had burned out on that side, and could start a fire if we kept using it. By the way the lamp still works!


It hit me and dh last night after we went to bed how very close we came to losing ds - and how very fragile life can be; one second he would be here and the next second gone forever. It was very upsetting, I couldn't stop crying. Trying to explain how serious it could have been to ds and dd though seems futile. Dd thinks it's a bit of a laugh, and altho ds seems a bit more serious about it (he got a bit fright too I think - big flash he said), he still today is asking to play with ext cords (naturally I said no!) I told them that plugs and cords are not toys and he must not play with them, nor put anything into them. Do you think the message has got thru? Or is he too young to understand consequences as serious as this?

P.S. The electrician said kids are always putting things in powerpoints, hairclips and keys etc. All I can say is if you haven't got a safety cut-off switch, get one - now.

mollipops Wed 22-Jan-03 05:49:05

Forgot to add, we DO have the plastic safety plugs in all accessible sockets - except of course the ones where something is already plugged in, like the lamp... These too are "must haves"!

lou33 Wed 22-Jan-03 09:43:13

It must have been awful for you mollipops, thank goodness he is alright. I guess it depends on your son if he understands or not, but I think you can get some sort of plastic box that covers your sockets while there are plugs in them to stop little fingers trying to pull them out. I have seen them advertised but can't remember where just now. If I find the link I will post it.

janh Wed 22-Jan-03 09:49:21

mollipops, I have had a couple of electrical frights with my kids when they were older than your ds and I don't know how you get through to them about electricity - you can't see it or hear it or smell it and the concept of electrocution is almost impossible to explain.

We have an IKEA wall light plugged in next to where they sit on the floor to watch TV in the study bedroom and we discovered that DS2, when he was 6 or 7 I think, had been chewing the wire (he is a chewer/picker/tearer anyway) and was through the white plastic to the inner insulation. They often would sit in a huddle watching the TV so if he had bitten it through....we do have circuit breakers on the fuse box but I don't know if that would have helped.

But whoever would think they needed to tell their children "do not chew electric wires"?

DS1, quite recently, used a metal knife to try to pry a bit of bread out of the toaster WHILE IT WAS ON!!!! He was about 13 at the time...he got a bang and a flash like yours.

In both cases I went ballistic and shrieked at them (much more than usual I mean !) and I just hope the degree of panic made an impression on them. I wonder if there might be any kind of safety video you could get to show yours?

eemie Wed 22-Jan-03 10:02:02

The main thing is you DID have a safety switch, it did exactly what it was supposed to do, and ds is fine. Well done. He is too young to understand the danger and too young for you to rely on him remembering it when it matters, even if he does seem to understand it. So all you can do is make things as tamper-proof as possible. Having said that I've just realised there is a lamp on an extension cord in our playroom which I'm going to remove right now.

RosieT Wed 22-Jan-03 11:02:43

Oh, mollipops, what a frightening story – and one that could have happened to any one of us. However hard we try, it's impossible to make our homes – or any other aspect of life – completely childproof, but thank God you had that safety cut-off switch!
My ds is 'reasonably' sensible (for a 4-year-old), and my approach is to take every possible opportunity to drum in safety messages – even if they don't seem to be listening, if you go on about it often enough, some of it might sink in eventually. Even though it's several years before he'll be crossing the road on his own, I always point out that we have to 'wait for the green man' and get him to look both ways down the road to check whether anything's coming. I think examples are very important, too – I had to tell ask my MIL not to use a plastic carrier bag as a rain hat the other day (we were out walking in the woods when a sudden shower came on, in case I'm making her sound like a strange bag lady), explaining to ds that we NEVER put plastic bags on our heads. I'm sure I come over very anal sometimes, but my view is the best way to protect our kids is to make sure they can look after themselves – we're not going to be around to look after them forever.

Amma Wed 22-Jan-03 11:54:59

My mother tells me off for it, but I let ds put in and pull out plugs under my supervision, eg when helping me to vacuum. I make a big deal about only touching the plastic, never touching the pins, and making sure the plug is fully pushed in. I also get very angry if I see he has touched a plugged in gadget when I am out of the room, and say that the electricity can burn him, as burning is a concept which he understands. Perhaps you can also talk to him about why you have the socket covers, ie because plugs are dangerous things.

WideWebWitch Wed 22-Jan-03 11:57:14

Oh mollipops, thanks goodness he's OK. My ds had an electric shock when he was 2.5, from fiddling with a lamp where the plastic had come away from the wires (I didn't know it was like this, obviously). I then went to switch it off and got one myself too, terrifying isn't it? Since then he's been scared of electricity which is a good thing, so maybe your ds will be the same? We do have those covers on the sockets but I'm going to find out about one of those safety switches.

GeorginaA Wed 22-Jan-03 12:28:07

I don't know if you watch CBeebies - but at about 11.45 they have a five minute Tweenies "Play Safe" programme and recently they did one on electrical safety. )They've also done thing about throwing things, playing with scissors etc)

This might be quite good to show young children to get in the idea of safety and get them to think of similar things that might be dangerous in the house - I wonder if there is a compilation video of this programme for sale anywhere - anyone know?

CAM Wed 22-Jan-03 12:48:46

In this coubtry we have much higher voltage than in most European countries which annoys me, also I have seen in apartments in Holland, sockets are not put in at floor level but higher up.
Luckily dd has not had any electric shocks so far but it is something I remind her about often.
Having said that I have had several in my life ranging from turning on a light with wet hands while standing on a wet floor (I know, I'm stupid), touching an electric bar fire in someone else's home (lucky I was wearing rubber soled boots at the time), water getting into the socket of a steam iron (burnt my wrist) and, yes, I did try to get toast out of the toaster with a knife once (no electric shock that time but the toaster exploded), hairdryer also exploded when I held it too close to my head. So I am not safe around electricity but I make sure dd is.

Lara2 Wed 22-Jan-03 19:57:16

Explain as much as you can. My DH lost his younger brother who was 3 at the time through a very similar occurrance. He's never really come to terms with it, as he was the one who found him (dh was 14) and tried to resusitate him.

Rhubarb Thu 23-Jan-03 14:33:55

Must have been v. scary for you Mollipops, you have my every sympathy!
JanH - my dh used to do the very same thing with our toaster, so I got rid of it! Must be a boy thing! All our sockets at her height have got those guards on them, but ones such as her lamp, obviously don't have. So far she has not expressed any interest in sockets and plugs at all, but you never know. We are thinking of putting her into a bed soon, but that means she can get out of it and I'm worried about the lamp. Dh says not to fuss - well he would do wouldn't he! But how do I ensure it is safe whilst still leaving it plugged in? (She likes it on at night)

janh Thu 23-Jan-03 15:03:42

Rhubarb, did somebody mention recently that you can get kind of locking things that fit over a plug when it's in a socket so a child can't pull it out? I'm sure I have seen them somewhere. (I suspect messing about with plugs etc is also a boy thing though.) Anyway could you move the furniture round so the socket is behind something (out of sight!)

There used to be public service cartoon films about children's safety, with a boy with big eyes and a terrified looking cat - I think they did one about electricity. I wonder if they're available anywhere now?

lou33 Thu 23-Jan-03 17:10:48

Found this which shows the product I am talking about, hth.

janh Thu 23-Jan-03 19:31:27

Thanks, lou, I thought it must have been on here but I missed your post below when I looked.

If you buy things from Ebay do you have to bid? Don't they give a price that you can say yes, I'll have 3 of those please?

lou33 Thu 23-Jan-03 21:04:52

Janh,you can only do that if a buy price is given, in which case it seals the deal. If the seller has more than one for sale then you can ask for more I think, but mostly ebay is an auction site, where the highest bid wins. A lot of companies put stuff on there though, so you can usually find somewhere with a buy price to enable a quick deal.

mollipops Fri 24-Jan-03 08:38:18

Lou33 they are brilliant, thank you so much - hope they are available in Australia...off to check.

Lara2, your post bought tears to my eyes. I can't begin to imagine how your dh felt as a child to have gone thru that. I was going over it in my mind, what would I have done if I had gone in there and...well it was too awful to even think it. And of course dd was there with him, so I also thought about the possibilty that she would have touched him and been zapped too. It is haunting me. But no it has not had much affect on him. He still wants to play with the plugs and cords...sigh. (I think he's going to grow up to be an electrical engineer like his uncle!) Must look for these safety covers...

mollipops Fri 24-Jan-03 09:36:56

Bad news - no sign of them here. Only the actual plug guards. Found mention of a powerboard cover, but can't find any for sale anywhere!

lou33 Fri 24-Jan-03 09:50:53

Have you had a look in the diy stores mollipops?

Philippat Fri 24-Jan-03 09:54:25

Those socket guards are made by a Wolverhampton firm (they do all kinds of other safety products for kids too). Being a small family-type firm mollipops, they's probably be prepared to send a pack to Australia if you asked.

Their contact details are:
Beldray Ltd., PO Box 20, Beldray Road, Bilston, West Midlands, WV14 7NF
01902 353785
info@beldray.co.uk
http://www.beldray.com

GillW Fri 24-Jan-03 10:10:31

Dh says that because the current British standard for plug pins is that they have to be half-shielded, i.e. the half of the (live & neutral) pins are plastic, and only become metal near the end where they make contact in the socket., actually putting something metal down the
back which does make contact with the metal is quite difficult.

I think Mollipops is in Australia and they have a different type of plug standards and/or voltages than we do here?

CAM - Dh also says that although we have a higher voltage, there's correspondingly a lower current (i.e. half), which means fuses are rated lower and so blow faster.

zebra Fri 24-Jan-03 11:38:53

Yeah, this thread confused me. I don't know about Oz. US sockets are lethal and really you do need covers. The UK ones have lots of safety features...

DH used to try to tell me all the time how safe British sockets are, how difficult to electrocute oneself, and they do have some clever features. That said, DS once tried to water a socket (ie, pour water from watering can onto it). That convinced DH that we should get socket covers after all.

sobernow Fri 24-Jan-03 11:47:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CAM Fri 24-Jan-03 17:56:01

Thanks GillW, as you see from my posting I have no understanding of things like electricity.

Hilary Fri 24-Jan-03 18:06:41

In our last house, ds2 actually managed to wee into a socket! It started to crack and smoke and it was pretty scary. Dh tried to make it work again but to no avail. Fortunately ds2 was ok.

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