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What Are the Dangers of Static Electricity for Kids?

By Sara Ipatenco ; Updated April 18, 2017
Static electricity is usually harmless, but it can be dangerous for kids.

Static electricity is a common phenomenon where electrons jump from one object to another says Science Made Simple. Static electricity usually fascinates kids. 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.

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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. 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. For a child with cochlear implants, however, static electricity can be more dangerous. 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. 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.

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. 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. If your child is on oxygen, wearing cotton clothing is a better choice because cotton won't create static electricity.

Lightning Can Strike

Lightning is an example of static electricity on a large scale and can obviously be dangerous for children. In 2013, 23 people died after being struck by lightning -- of which two were children -- the National Weather Service reports. 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.

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About the Author

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.

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