What Are the Dangers of Static Electricity for Kids?
Static electricity is a common phenomenon where electrons jump from one object to another says Science Made Simple 56. Static electricity usually fascinates kids 56. Though it can cause mild pain, it is usually harmless. In some circumstances, though, static electricity can be dangerous and parents should be aware of these conditions 56.
Kids Can Get Shocks
There are many ways that children can feel a static electric shock. Dry and cold conditions are your best chance of experiencing one in the home. When you touch a metal object after you have rubbed your socks on the carpet, this static that might hurt a bit, but it will not harm a child long term. A clothes dryer will work to build up a lot of static electricity and cause your clothes to stick together 56. Though it may cause you to loose track of a few small pieces of clothing, it will not ultimately hurt you.
The Hearing Impaired Have Additional Risks
When children zip down a plastic slide, static electricity might cause their hair to stand on end 56. For a child with cochlear implants, however, static electricity can be more dangerous 56. Static electricity can interfere with the implants, which essentially disables the devices and makes it difficult for the child to hear outside information, according to Patricia M. Chute and Mary Ellen Nevins, authors of "The Parents' Guide to Cochlear Implants." This happens because the spark corrupts information on the computer chip in the implant, thereby negatively affecting the sounds a child hears 256. Other plastic playground equipment can cause the same problem for children with cochlear implants. Computers are also a source of static electricity, as the computer chip in a cochlear implant can become corrupted when the child is working on a computer 56.
Oxygen Tanks Also Pose Greater Risks
Children who are on oxygen therapy should also avoid static electricity because the sparks can ignite when exposed to oxygen 56. The New York Fire Department cautions against using fabrics made of wool, nylon and other synthetic materials around oxygen tanks because these fabrics are more likely to cause static sparks 3. If your child is on oxygen, wearing cotton clothing is a better choice because cotton won't create static electricity 56.
Lightning Can Strike
Lightning is an example of static electricity on a large scale and can obviously be dangerous for children 56. In 2013, 23 people died after being struck by lightning -- of which two were children -- the National Weather Service reports 4. This number is down from a 30-year average of 51 deaths a year. Merely being outside during a thunderstorm puts your child at greater risk for a lightning strike. Lightning can also strike through open windows and doors, so it is best to keep your child in an interior room of your house during a thunderstorm, reports the National Weather Service 4.
- University of Illinois Department of Physics: Q and A: Static electricity
- The Parents' Guide to Cochlear Implants; Patricia M. Chute and Mary Ellen Nevins
- New York Fire Department: Home Oxygen Fire Safety
- National Weather Service: 2013 Lightning Fatalities
- What is Static Electricity?: Wonderopolis
- Static electricity: Science Made Simple
- Richard Haines/iStock/Getty Images