What is more dangerous to your child than socket outlets????
I have a 3-year-old daughter who occasionally finds herself on the naughty step which I then tend to find her playing with the plug socket at the bottom of the stairs. I was recommended putting socket covers in my home by a health visitor when my daughter was younger and I still haven’t to this day. As an electrician I know the danger of electricity but still didn’t fit any covers and there is a good reason why, socket covers are not endorsed by any national body including the UK Government, RoSPA, Ofsted, Child Accident Prevention Trust and Electrical Safety First -Electrical Safety Council. I am going to explain to you the danger that these covers can cause and hopefully make you think
A little insight in to the design of a socket outlet
In Britain we have the highest standards in the electrical industry we are governed by regulation changes every few years, constant re training governing bodies such as NICEIC, stroma, Elecsa and NAPIT but one thing that has remained the same since 1947 is the humble socket outlet. The socket and plug was completely redesigned in the 40’s to ensure a safer way to use your outlets in your home A few of the requirements when the socket outlet was design was that socket outlets should protect young children, this was to be achieved in two ways.
One way was to make the holes in the outlets too small for children’s fingers to fit inside and that the live conductors were obstructed by being recessed deep enough that even in you could put the tip of a finger in the socket it would be in deep enough to touch live parts
the second method was to fit shutters to cover the live connections which are only exposed once the earth pin of a plug has been inserted. This stops children from inserting metallic objects in to sockets and touching live parts.
Socket covers flaws
It may come as a surprise as many retails specialising in babies and toddlers accessories have these covers on the shelf but none of these covers have been approved to be used on BS:1363 socket out lets the current standard for all sockets and plugs in the UK
A few of the issues are listed
• No socket covers are available which meet the correct dimensions for plugs!
• Anything made to the wrong dimensions may cause permanent damage.
• Socket covers introduce a variety of dangers; they make sockets less safe, not more so.
• Some socket covers have many faults, some just a few, but none makes your sockets safer.
• No responsible national body recommends using socket covers.
Here is a quote from Mark Coles, technical manager for the institute of engineering and technology (the IET write publish the wiring regulations for the UK)
“Socket-outlets to BS 1363 are the safest in the world and have been since they were first designed in the 1940s. Socket protectors are not regulated for safety, therefore, using a non-standard system to protect a long established safe system is not sensible.”
Unlike real 13a plugs the various shapes and designs allow for curious children to insert these socket covers earth pin only (upside down) this will allow access for object to the live parts within.
Socket covers usually are manufactured to look like “dummy” plugs however BS:1363 plugs are made to very precise standards. This can cause:
• Socket contact damage -results in overheating and possible fire
• Socket shutter damage – the shutters will not be able to protect children
• Some socket covers make it possible to poke pins and paper clips into the live parts!
• Broken plastic pins stuck in the earth hole – prevents shutters from closing
• Wrong size pins can make covers easy to remove, some even pop out by themselves!
• Children like to play with socket covers – plugging in upside down opens the shutter and exposes live contacts
I have been to a call out where and badly made and incorrect sized socket cover had been used and cause burning to the socket outlet thus resulting in having to have the socket replaced and a call out charge.
It is a myth that these protectors make things safer for you and your family as a parent myself I have never allowed these in my house I have seen too many broken covers which cause more of a hazard than a socket that has been left alone, it is a myth that children cannot remove these children as young as 5 months have been known to be able to remove these and an 11-month-old can remove these in 2 seconds.
I asked right at the start what is more dangerous than socket outlets in your home hopefully you will see that socket outlets are less dangerous as long as they are left alone. The design themselves are safe and if you do feel the need to have socket covers fitted please make sure you check them regularly
Please share this with people you know with children