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PREVENTING ELECTRICAL HAZARDS:
Child-Proofing Hotel Guest Rooms
To protect people and property from avoidable electrical hazards, the National Electrical Code (NEC) establishes universal safety standards for safe electrical installation, inspection, and use. Adopted in all 50 states, the NEC standards are updated every three years, with 15 code revisions issued since 1974 to include the latest in proven safety technology. Beginning with the 2008 edition of standards, the NEC has required tamper-resistant receptacles (TRRs) in new and renovated homes.
With its 2017 update, the NEC also requires new or renovated hotel and motel guest rooms and suites among other properties to have tamper-resistant receptacles placed on all outlets. The code requires the use of TRRs in non-locking-type 15A and 20A, 125V and 250V receptacles.
What are Tamper-Resistant Receptacles?
Tamper-resistant receptacles provide electrical safety protection, preventing children from sticking anything into a socket. TRRs look exactly like typical electrical outlets but behind the face of the receptacle are spring- loaded shutters designed to remain closed until a plug is inserted. Indeed, the shutters open only when something is inserted into both outlet holes with the same applied pressure. The safety of a TRR is predicated on the fact that most young children will not try to stick two objects into the two vertical outlet holes at the same time.
TRRs, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), are preferred over products such as receptacles with caps or sliding receptacle covers for a number of reasons:
- Receptacle caps may be lost and can be a choking hazard for some ages. Children can learn to defeat sliding receptacle covers when they watch their parents.
- A study by Temple University found that 100% of children between the ages of two and four years old could pry plastic outlet covers off electrical sockets within 10 seconds, making these types of protectors ineffective.
- TRRs require no additional parts, so there is no need to remember to install them.
- TRRs prevent children from sticking keys and other objects into an outlet.
- TRRs are available with Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) protection as well as Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) protection.
- Outlet covers are no longer approved by independent testing laboratories and carry a higher risk of overheating and can be a fire hazard.
The projected cost of a TRR, according to the NFPA, adds about $0.50 to the cost of an unprotected receptacle. A qualified electrician trained on the National Electrical Code should perform all electrical installations.
Ensuring Hotel Compliance with the NEC
Complying with the 2017 NEC update for all new and renovated hotels to have TRRs placed on all outlets in guest rooms and suites is not only a requirement but also sound risk management.
On average, 2,850 children every year end up in emergency rooms after suffering life-threatening shocks or burns from a jolt of electricity when they stick items (bobby pins, fingers, paper clips, keys) into the slots of electrical receptacles. It is estimated that there are six to 12 child fatalities a year related to this.
Be sure your hotel property is in compliance with the NEC to prevent electrical hazards and potential liability issues that can arise as a result of these hazards.
Claims examples as cited by the NFPA include:
- A 2-year-old boy stuck a bobby pin into an electrical receptacle and burned his finger.
- A 3-year-old girl received a shock when she put a key into an electrical receptacle.
- A 6-year-old boy burned his hands when he put pipe cleaners into an electrical receptacle.
Sources: Electrical Safety Foundation International, National Fire Protection Association, National Electrical Code