Don’t be shocked

By Christine Davis

Every year, 110 children under the age of 15 are injured by electricity in Ontario. That’s more than 100 kids ending up in the emergency department – more than half of whom are under the age of five.

Research shows that even mild shocks can have long-term after effects, including numbness, memory loss and chronic pain. Dr. Joel Moody, director, Safety Risk, Policy and Innovation at the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) explains that our body has internal electrical signal impulses – those signals the brain sends to the body to smile, blink, etc. – and when electricity is introduced by an outside source, it interrupts that in a way that Dr. Moody likens to tripping a fuse.

He goes on to explain that external energy flowing through the body is trying to find the fastest exit, adding that the longer it stays in the body, the more damage it can cause.

“Kids are curious by nature,” Dr. Moody says, and while that’s great in the grand scheme of learning, it’s not always safe. They “often use their hands to explore their surroundings, which puts them at risk for electric shock.” He goes on to say that, “All shocks can be potentially damaging but all shocks can be prevented.”

In an effort to prevent electric shock at home, the ESA has launched the #NoSafeShock initiative, offering the following fairly inexpensive and easy ways for parents, particularly those with young children, to help keep them safe:

• Install tamper-resistant (TR) receptacles. They have shutters that cover the plug slots and help prevent little fingers or objects from going into the outlet.

• Replace missing or broken cover plates. Protecting outlets with covers creates a barrier between people and exposed wires.

• Check your electrical cords for damage or fraying. If a cord is frayed, replace it. Tape doesn’t protect from shock.

If you do receive a shock, no matter how minor, Dr. Moody stresses the importance of seeking medical attention.

Learn more about how to prevent electric shock at home visit the Electrical Safety Authority online and watch the #NoSafeShock video at