What are Tamper Resistant Outlets?
What are Tamper Resistant Receptacles?
Tamper Resistant Receptacles are the result of a safety measure set in place by National Electric Code (NEC) to help prevent electric shock. Tamper resistant receptacles are safe and effective that prevent electrical contact with foreign objects, thus preventing electric shock and even death.
These tamper resistant outlets have spring-loaded shutters that must be simultaneously engaged by the blades of a plug in order to release, allowing the metal prongs to make contact to create an electrical circuit. Therefore, when a foreign object, like a paper clip or a pin for instance, is inserted, the safety shutter will not allow access to the live contact. When a plug is removed and the tamper resistant outlet is not in use, the shutters close and both contact openings are covered.
This does not cover the ground receptacle since that would limit the number of compatible devices by requiring all plugs to have a ground plug. Only the line and load contacts are shielded in order to accept common household and office electrical appliances.
Who is at risk?
Children, mostly. Studies show that 89% of electric burn and shock treatments are for children 6 years of age and under. As of 2008, any new and renovated dwelling is required to have tamper resistant outlets.
NEC first implemented Tamper Resistant (TR) requirements in pediatric patient care areas back in 2002, and this important safety regulation has since moved its way into a multitude of other facilities where children may be at risk, including day care centers, elementary and nursery schools, doctor's offices and lobbies, retail operations that cater to children, and most importantly, homes.
Please also note that while receptacle covers that limit improper access to the energized parts of a receptacle are permitted, they are not UL listed for safety and tamper resistance. They may also become a choking hazard if removed. Also, plastic plug-in inserts and wall plates with contact shutters are listed only as insulating devices aimed at energy conservation only and are not UL approved for safety and tamper resistance. Tamper resistant receptacles provide the best protection and there is no substitute for the safety they provide.
NEC regulations are updated every 3 years and tamper resistant outlets are only required in places where children may be present. Tamper resistant receptacles are not required on "relocatable power taps" per UL terms, but many units have the tamper resistant option for added safety. Please consult with your electrician or local Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) for occupational safety and health compliance standards.