How To Switch Your Current Electrical Outlets For Child Proof Outlets

17 December 2015
 Categories: , Blog


Children are injured, severely burned, or killed by inserting metallic objects such as keys, pins, or knives into electrical outlets. While parents and caregivers can buy plastic inserts to place inside unused outlets to block such activities, they are ineffective in some cases. 

Older children can pry the inserts from the outlets with ease, while small children can pry them out with greater difficulty but incur an additional risk of choking on the small pieces of plastic.

The best choice is to replace standard outlets entirely with tamper resistant, or child proof, electrical outlets.

How do child proof outlets work?

These outlets have spring loaded plates that cover the outlet slots and they will only open when equal pressure is applied to both slots at once, such as inserting a plug. Attempting to insert an object into a single slot will not allow the cover plates to open.

What do you need to switch your old outlet for a tamper resistant outlet?

A tamper resistant outlet. 

They are more expensive than a standard outlet, but still can be found for less than ten dollars.

Flat head and philips head screwdrivers

Removing the old outlet

You will first need to turn off the circuit breaker that controls the flow of power to the outlet. If you're not sure which breaker is the right choice, plug a working light into the outlet. If you turn off the correct breaker, the light will go out.

When you are certain that the power is off, remove the face plate from the front of the outlet with your flat head screwdriver, then loosen the upper and lower screws of the outlet with the philips head screwdriver. Pull the outlet from the gang box inside the wall.

You will see either one or two sets of three wires connected to the screw terminals on the sides of the outlet. Loosen the terminal screws and remove the wires, keeping each sets of three wires separate (if applicable).

Connecting the tamper resistant outlet

If one set of three wires is present, connect the black wire to the top gold terminal on the left side of the outlet, and the white wire to the top silver terminal on the right side of the outlet. The green or copper wire will be connected to the green terminal on the top of the outlet. Connect the wires by looping them behind the terminal screws and tightening the screws until they are securely fastened.

If a second set of wires is present, connect the black wire to the bottom gold terminal and the white wire to the bottom silver terminal. The second green or copper wire will share the green terminal at the top of the outlet.

Push the new outlet into the gang box, and secure it with the upper and lower center screws, then attach the old face plate with the single center screw.

Turn on the breaker and you have one less thing to worry about with your inquisitive children. Contact a local electrician, like D & D Electric Enterprises, Inc., if you need more help.