The price of tamper-resistant outlets has dropped to about a buck apiece, now that they're required by electrical code and manufacturers have ramped up production. Replace the outlets in the rooms your kids use the most and get rid of those pesky plastic outlet plugs, which are inconvenient to use, easily lost and a choking hazard. The new tamper-resistant outlets look just like regular outlets but have an interior cover that will open only when the two prongs of a plug are inserted simultaneously. This prevents children from sticking something into one of the slots and getting burned or electrocuted.
According to a 10-year report released by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 2,400 children receive emergency room treatment every year for injuries caused by inserting objects into electrical outlets.
Replacing an outlet is simple. Start by turning off the circuit breaker or removing the fuse that controls the outlet at the main service panel. Then, after checking to make sure there's no power to the outlet, carefully unscrew the outlet and replace it with a tamper-resistant version.
Many receptacles and switches are equipped with spring clamps that trap and hold the copper wire in place. These “stab-in” clamps are great for saving time during installation, but the connections aren’t nearly as reliable as connections made at the screw terminals.
When replacing a stab-in receptacle or switch, most electricians simply cut the wire, strip and bend a loop, and connect it to the screws. But if your wires are too short to risk cutting off even more, here’s how to remove the existing wires from the spring clamps.
CAUTION: Before pulling out the receptacle to do any electrical work, turn off the power and double-check with a voltage sniffer.