The 2008-NEC (National Electrical Code) mandates the installation of Tamper Resistant Receptacles in all new construction and renovations—-for improved child safety. The Consumer Products Safety Commission, in a 10 year study, documented that over 24,000 children under the age of 10 were treated in emergency rooms for incidents related to electrical receptacles (shocks and burns).
It should be noted that these devices are not “tamper proof,” and a kid would have to know a lot about how the insides of these things work (or be INCREDIBLY unlucky) to bypass the built-in safety feature.
I have fooled around with these devices a bit (it is not hard for me to act like a 10 year old) and I found it VERY difficult to shock myself. I am not going to give the details of what it did take to shock myself because I wouldn’t want anyone out there to duplicate my follies—-especially all those 10 year olds that might be reading my blog. Recreational defibrillation is for “mature” adults ONLY.
As an inspector, I welcome these Tamper Resistant devices for reasons other than their obvious safety advantages. When I want to test receptacles during an inspection, it takes a LOT of time to remove those little push in plastic caps that people install to make the receptacles safer. The picture at the left is one of my favorite pictures of these push in type caps. As you can see, with a missing cover plate, the “hot” components of the receptacle are infinitely more available to a kid’s curiosity than a receptacle with no caps and a proper cover plate would be.
If you have little kids around—-your current receptacles can be changed to the new type “relatively” cheaply (especially if you only do the ones that are readily accessible to children—-like in their bedrooms) . I would stress that these receptacles should only be changed by a qualified person. People sometimes think that changing a receptacle is always as simple as it looks. While it is simple for someone that knows what they are doing, there are factors in homes that can make it more problematic, like: receptacles on switches, split wired receptacles, crumbly older wiring, aluminum wiring, reversed polarity, no ground wires etc.
This next picture shows what a couple of Leviton’s new Tamper Resistant receptacles look like.
Note that they have the letters TR stamped on them as required for identification.
So, don’t go and act like you are under 10 now.
Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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