Electrical hazard reminder after baby’s close call
- 10-month-old made contact with live parts of a damaged power supply
- Parents urged to regularly check condition and location of electrical items
- RCDs do not protect against all electrical faults
WA’s Director of Energy Safety is reminding parents to check the condition and location of electrical equipment at their homes after a baby was lucky to escape with only finger burns when he touched live components.
Building and Energy electrical inspectors attended a house in Hocking in August after the 10-month-old boy managed to reach a power board where fish tank lights were plugged in.
The plastic casing around the lighting’s power supply had become loose and separated, exposing the electrical parts inside. The baby made contact with live conductors carrying up to 240 volts of electricity, causing burns to his finger before his mother rushed over and kicked the power board away from his touch.
WA’s Director of Energy Safety, Saj Abdoolakhan, said the baby was taken to Perth Children’s Hospital as a precaution but luckily no further issues arose.
“The little boy was very lucky that his injuries were not more serious, which is obviously an incredible relief to his family,” Mr Abdoolakhan said.
“It’s a timely reminder to check your electrical equipment regularly. If any electrical installations, appliances or power points are damaged or faulty, stop using them immediately. Don’t tape up or try to repair damaged electrical items yourself – replace them or contact a licensed electrician. It’s not worth the risk.
“Also remember that residual current devices, or RCDs, do not provide protection against all electrical hazards. In this case, we believe the baby made contact simultaneously with the active and neutral components inside the power supply. This is different to someone touching only the active component, causing the current to flow through their body to earth, which an RCD is designed to detect.”
Other electrical safety tips to protect children include:
- Close adult supervision near electrical equipment and appliances.
- Keep electrical equipment out of reach of children.
- Teach children about electrical hazards.
- Check your appliance plugs have insulation at the base of the pins – this protects against contact with electrified metal if the plug is partially pulled out of the socket.
- Keep power points switched off when not in use and install plastic plug covers.
- Never try to repair damaged electrical items yourself – replace them or contact a licensed electrician.
- Regularly test RCDs, ideally every three months: https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/building-and-energy/testing-rcds
- Follow the official installation, use and maintenance instructions for electrical goods.
- Buy electrical equipment from a reputable supplier – be wary of buying products online as they may not comply with Australian safety standards.
- Look for a regulatory compliance mark (a tick inside a triangle) to show the appliance is approved for use in Australia.
- Report any shocks and tingles immediately to the network operator, such as Western Power (13 13 51) or Horizon Power on (13 23 51).
Media contact: BEmedia@dmirs.wa.gov.au
Images: The baby’s injured hand and the damaged power supply involved in the incident in Hocking.
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