“I normally refuse to join in campaigns but this seemed so important, and the ‘safety’ covers so absurd and dangerous, that I agreed”
Author, TV presenter & Patron of FatallyFlawed
Dr Adam Hart-Davis

Adam_Hart-Davis2

johnnyball

“Sockets in the UK are designed to keep people safe. Our UK design has been better than the majority of other countries, for many years.  Socket covers are an absolute con and totally unnecessary.” 
Engineering, Maths and Science presenter on TV
FatallyFlawed Supporter

Johnny Ball
 

Mothercare/IKEA

IMPORTANT: This information applies to BS 1363 sockets only   

February 2015 update. 
On 15th December 2014 IKEA replied to a query on this product from a FatallyFlawed supporter, IKEA stated: “our UK risk department have investigated this and we have recognised that they don't comply with the UK standards, so a sales stop has been put on to this product.”  But, their UK website continued to show stocks in store throughout the UK until the end of January 2015, when most stores had sold out their stocks.  A responsible company would have instituted an imediate recall, not simply sell out what they had!  What does this say about IKEA?

Mothercare also quietly dropped this design from their website, with no recall.  Mothercare are now selling an own-brand version of the Lindam Dual Guard.

IKEA email1
Mothercare web site image

This design has been sold under a number of major brands, most notably Mothercare and IKEA (part of the PATRULL range) but also BabyDan and others.  The design is based on an original foreign socket cover which has been crudely adapted for UK use.  UK law requires that a real plug covers the socket holes by at least 9.5mm, but this design ignores that and does not even fully cover access to the socket holes, as can be clearly seen in the picture on the left which is taken from Mothercare’s own website.  Note the corners of the socket holes which remain exposed.  This allows objects such as pins and paperclips to be inserted alongside the cover, as demonstrated in this picture on the right.  We inserted an IKEA cover into an MK socket (MK make the best sockets you can buy).  Normally the shutters in the socket would prevent any object other than a plug being inserted into the live contacts, but because this cover is so badly designed it was easy to push a couple of paper clips directly into the socket!  We connected the lamp to illustrate just how dangerous this is. 
Under no circumstances should you attempt to repeat this experiment unless you are a fully qualified person. 

IKEA_with_lamp
Model7S Model2I

The covers are flexible, and the “power” pins too short, they are easy to push in upside down, leaving live contacts exposed. 
None of the pins are the correct size.

The close-up picture (right) shows the pin ends.  BS 1363 requires that the end of the earth pin is cleanly chamfered on all 4 sides, as in the LH example which is a real plug with an insulated earth pin.  The shorter pins should be chamfered only on the long sides as the brass pin shown.  These covers have no clean chamfers, just generally rounded ends. 
  

Model3Pins

The socket shutter mechanism is designed to work with the proper pin shape and  correct length.  An incorrect shape can place undue stress on the socket contacts, and the short length results in the cover being pushed back out of many sockets.  See our “Size Matters!!” page to learn more about this.

The IKEA covers we bought were in a packet bearing a photo of a US socket cover on the front, and IKEA appears to have great difficulty in understanding the importance of different socket types in different countries.  

IKEA claims their cover “Reduces the risk of children sticking a finger or an object into a wall socket.” 
We think that the opposite is true.
Ikea also states “Can be used in both earthed and unearthed sockets.”
They seem unaware that an “unearthed socket” would be illegal in the UK!

Mothercare
says: “Prevents little children inserting their fingers or objects into sockets”.  But, it is just another dangerous design. 

Model2detail
Model7N
Model3S

The Mothercare covers we bought were a shiny grey colour which we think would attract children, but before discontinuing the product completely they offered only a white version on their website.

The red version of the IKEA cover appears to be intended for use as an extractor for the white one (although we found they were easy to remove without), a pictogram on the packet warns not to put it in a socket, but dimensionally it is identical.  We think the red colour  makes it particularly attractive to small children.

Later versions of these covers have been slightly modified.  But, instead of making the the plate extend to the full 9.5 mm from the pin required by BS 1363, it is now just under 2 mm! This is just enough to cover the hole when the cover is fully inserted, but the hole becomes visible again when the cover “pops out” due to its short pins (the pins have been extended slightly, but not enough to prevent the pop out problem in all sockets). The pins remain badly shaped and the wrong thickness.

The internal shutters of a BS 1363 socket are there to prevent foreign bodies being inserted, and it  is not possible to do this in the absence of a cover.

These covers  replace the established and fully tested safety measures of a standard UK socket with a situation where the sockets are not completely covered.  They leave an unshuttered hole into which a paper clip or similar can be inserted, making direct contact with a lethal 230 volts!  No manufacturer can honestly claim that such a device improves safety.

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