Electricity is an incredible power source - one that has changed our lives. You only have to endure a power outage to realize how much we've come to rely on it for light, heat, cooking, cleaning and nearly an innumerable number of daily activities. Since we live our lives surrounded by it, sometimes we forget that it can also be very dangerous.

Here are some ideas for helping your kids to respect electricity and be safe around it.

Talk to your kids about how electricity is carried

Point out power lines near your home and let them know that although the power company has worked hard to make their lines safe, if they were ever to see downed lines, they should stay away and tell an adult.

Take a walk around your house with your kids and teach them how power is carried throughout the home by wires inside the walls. Show them how plugs work, and that nothing else should ever be inserted into electrical outlets. Outlets can be nearly irresistible to little children, so cover any unused outlets with plastic covers that little fingers can't remove. When kids are old enough to plug items in for themselves, be sure to teach them to watch for frayed cords or exposed wires of any kind. They should use extreme care to insert plugs straight and never yank them out to remove, since that can break the delicate wires inside and make the plug nonfunctional and dangerous.

Teach kids that water makes electricity even more dangerous

Show them through example that appliances should always be unplugged before being cleaned, and any electrical appliance should be kept from any danger of falling into a bathtub.

Watch for overloads

A young mom noticed that her kids had used an extension cord to plug several devices into one outlet. Luckily, she was able to catch and fix the situation before the outlet overloaded, and to point out the danger to her kids. While modern circuit breakers help, there is still a danger of sparking and fire with overloaded circuits.

Because we use electricity every day and are so used to having it near, kids and adults alike may find it easy to forget how dangerous it can be. A lot has been done since the old days of electrical power to improve its safety. Most homes are wired with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI), which cut off power to an outlet that surges or shorts out, and other safety features. In spite of this, caution is still needed. In fact, in the United States each year, electrical shock or burns injure more than 4,000 children and kill about 25 kids under age 15.

Hold a family meeting

Use the meeting to go over how to use electricity safely. Be aware that kids will use and understand electrical power differently as they grow older. You'll need to continue to review and teach as they age.

With just a little care and education, your family can utilize the awesome power of electricity safely.

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