Last week in honor of "National Electrical Safety Month" I posted an article on arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) and the political challenges these electrical safety devices are facing from homebuilders in midwestern states. The good news is that AFCIs are just one of several innovative electrical safety products to hit the market in recent years. Our friends at the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) are also touting another great new product for homes, one that parents of young children are especially finding useful: tamper resistant outlets.
What's the most common parental concern when it comes to electricity? Moms and dads worrying about Junior sticking a foreign object into an elecrical outlet. And for good reason: According to the "Real Safety" campaign, over a recent ten-year period more than 24,000 children were injured by incidents involving electrical outlets. The solution was to develop a built-in shutter system that prevents someone from sticking a hairpin or key or finger into one of the sockets in the outlet. In a tamper resistant outlet, only by simultaneous insertion of two or three prongs will the shutter system allow complete entry. Simple yet brilliant. (Check out the video at ESFI's website to see how tamper resistant outlets work.)
Fire and electrical experts take this new development seriously: The 2008 National Electrical Code (NEC®) mandates the use of these products in new residential homes.
Chalk up another rise in living standards to U.S. manufacturing innovation.

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