Child Safety Week – 1st-7th June 2015 – Socket covers

This week is Child Accident Prevention Trust’s Child Safety Week 2015.  So we’re taking a step back from our normal focus on PAT testing to look at how you can keep yourself and your family safe.

Socket covers are the subject of some fierce debates. Some people, like supporters of Fatally Flawed, argue that fitting blank socket covers can actually be dangerous. Some argue that if they were dangerous, they would have been recalled. And yet others, such as Electrical Safety First state that there is no compelling evidence one way or another, and that UK standard wall sockets are considered the safest in Europe.

Who do you trust?

At the end of the day this is a tough judgement call. Parents, carers, and people who work closely with children know how inquisitive they can be. Fitting a socket protector might stop your children poking things into the socket (although as Fatally Flawed points out, as long as the socket is intact and up to standard it’s hard to do anyhow). However, with some kids (my younger brother was one of these) a socket blanking cover is something to play with – how many different ways can it fit into a socket, what else can you do with it, what happens if you stick something on the end and plug it in?

You have to consider what the children around your sockets are likely to do, and what you think is best for your needs. If you’re a childminder, do the parents of your young wards expect to see socket covers? Does your liability insurance insist on them? (It’s not something we’ve come across, but you never know.)

What are the main arguments?

Fatally Flawed argue that UK mains sockets are carefully designed with safety in mind. Plugs and sockets are designed in such a way that they fit each other properly – it’s why so many chargers and mains leads are recalled each year. (You can read more about dangerous chargers and power leads here.)

Socket protectors do not comply with the standards for plugs and sockets, and are not regulated in the same way. Many bear the British Standard kitemark, but this is to confirm that they meet the standards for toys – meaning that they are safe for children to play with.

 

Electrical Safety First says:

In the opinion of Electrical Safety First, there is no “significant risk” to children from 13 Amp socket-outlets fully conforming to the product standard BS 1363. Having integral safety shutters, they are widely judged to be of the safest design currently installed in Europe, and we are not aware of any incident data to suggest that there is any real or potential problem with this type of socket-outlet.

Electrical Safety First, extracted May 2015

They then add:

Babies and toddlers are inherently risk-prone and should never be left unattended and allowed to ‘play’ with socket-outlets. Eternal vigilance is the only reliable safeguard in this respect, as is the case with any other potential (and frequently much greater) hazard that they might encounter.

Electrical Safety First, extracted May 2015

However, they also state that fitting a socket protector may reduce the risk of shock as it makes access to electricity more difficult.

So what should you do, since the experts can’t agree? How about checking back to see our next post for Child Safety Week 2015?

Until tomorrow,

Emma

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