We invite people with experience of “safety socket covers” to contact us with their stories. Please send to the address listed on the contacts page.
“Dainton (17 months) has learnt how to get socket covers off, he then goes in the kitchen pulls my iron out the cupboard and plugs it in!!!!! Thank god I caught him! Lil monkey” - This is a comment posted on a baby discussion forum in December 2010 - it illustrates why you should never use socket covers to prevent children plugging in dangerous appliances, you MUST keep dangerous appliances out of the reach of children!
"I'm just grateful that my husband understood enough about sockets to know that they are safer without covers, so we have never had any (my oldest child has just turned 4 years old and my youngest is 2 years old). I do remember my own parents used them when I was younger and I used to regularly play with them to see which covers I could fit in which sockets the wrong way around. I even remember that one of them had a melted pin but that is probably more of a reflection of the wiring in the old house that I grew up in rather than the safety cover!”
Wendy Shippam, Founder of friendlybaby.co.uk (a supplier of real nappies, and natural and eco baby products)
“We have a 9 month old baby. Our first child is nearly six. There is one double socket in the house that is accessible to the crawling 9-month-old, which my wife decided last week to put a pair of safety socket covers on (she’d received these in a pack from some baby group). When I got home from work, the 6-year-old had taken one of the safety socket covers out, and put it in "upside down", opening the shutters and leaving direct access to the live terminals for small objects – lucky I noticed before the baby put something in. The covers are now in the bin and we are contacting the baby group involved.”
Grahame Kenyon CEng MIEE MIET, Chartered Electrical Engineer and parent (Lancashire)
“I witness on a daily basis children’s inquisitiveness and their underestimated strength and ability. I have encountered incidents where children have proved that their strength far outweighs the strength we may credit them with. We may consider it too tough, too tricky, for a small child to remove these socket covers, however, I have observed children employ a number of innovative schemes and techniques in order to move, reach or release things which then allow for their further experimentation.”
“Think of all those early learning toys which encourage children to try to fit different shaped objects into different shaped holes, boxes with holes in them, peg and hammer games and jigsaws. Children are actively encouraged to experiment with the different ways round things can go. What then might seem more appealing to a child encountering a covered socket than to experiment with sticking the pins of a plug socket cover into the socket in different ways.”
Caroline, Qualified Nursery Nurse. (Scotland)
“As a domestic cleaner I often find plug covers on floors below unused sockets. On occasions a young child will volunteer their 'help' with the housework which usually involves dusting and tidying! Realising that this may lead to a child attempting to return a plug cover into a socket, has alerted me to the potential danger that this child would be in. I will now be advising my clients and co-workers of this website.”
Rosemary Kerr, Professional Charwoman, Edinburgh
“My daughter, against my advice, bought some of these from a well-known High Street supplier of babycare products and fitted them in her home. Her 3 year old son, seeing Mummy replacing these widgets after using the vacuum cleaner, applied his natural infant curiosity and dexterity, and removed one, which broke at some point. He replaced the larger part in the socket, and gave the smaller part to his younger sister to chew on. She nearly choked.”
Anon, Electrical Engineer and grandparent
The following quotes are taken from discussions of this site on various web forums:
“I think the thing that got me was how fast a child could do this, they had a display for selling these when my dd was about six months old at the diy store and i'll admit when he showed me how secure it was i was struggling to get it out but while the guy was trying to sell them to me my dd got the cover out within a very short time, chewed on it and then put it back incorrectly all in less time than it would have taken me to choose a dvd if i was home on my own. I have never used them, never seen the point seeing as how the plug itself is safer without the covers and in truth i have found most child safty stuff makes my house more dangerous ......... neither has ever played with the plugs at home even once, but both play with the plug covers at my sisters house, i suppose they spot something different.“
“At 7 months old my DD bum shuffled around the kitchen and dining room removing ever single socket cover and the shuffled to me in the kitchen and handed them to me!”
“Both of my children could get them off at 12 months, even the ones I found difficult to get off myself. If they found it a little difficult they would try to insert something behind the socket cover (pen or fork). As soon as I removed them there was no interest in the socket.”
“emmay plug socket covers are rubbish, (my 10 month old son) has been pulling them out of the sockets all morning”
“I have found them to be dangerous as my 18 month-old daughter managed to pull one out of the socket, snapping off the top prong and effectively disabling the safety shutter in the socket. Luckily I saw her do it and stopped her before she could be hurt, needless to say we don't have them any more!"
“Bought those little critters for stopping my first child getting ‘electrocuted’ and he managed to pull one out and was happily chewing it… “
“Those things are a menace - I cannot remove them without a tool - but my grandson can with his fingers!”
”I brought a whole pack of saftey things.. coz that’s what we’re told we should do… but my son, now 26months, was easily able to pull them out.”
“I have an autistic son and he can really easily remove these covers and has done from a very early age.”
“I have never used them with my 2 because friends have had children as young as 5 months pick them off, and find them an attractive toy.”
“All my children could get the blasted socket covers out, whereas I struggled to prise the darned things out. TBH, never have used them much anyway - especially when I realised the kids could get them out (and yes they tried reinserting them the wrong way up) and they appeared to be more of an attraction than deterrent.”
“Have now fully read this website and showed it to OH, he spent ages reading it and doing a bit more research and then immediately went around and removed all the covers. I was totally in two minds but I have seen our LO having removed a socket cover and have also seen him trying to stick a single prong from one in the earth hole - as shown in the dangerous situations on the website. He has also managed to break another socket cover.”
“My son has mastered how to get the socket covers off the sockets!”
“From working in a nursery I discovered that it doesn't take long for children to discover how to prise them out anyway, making it even more dangerous as they now have a "tool" to open the safety flap with.”
“What got me wondering about this subject was something that happened to me recently. We had a load of Clippasafe covers given to us which we've been using for a while, and when trying to remove one, I snapped it. The earth "pin" of the cover is now stuck in the socket, and as a result - the shutters behind the live & neutral holes are open.”
I bought some of those blanking covers when our four year old was born, looked hard at them and thought "some very intelligent people thought for a long time before coming up with a British Standard for sockets that was then subject to peer review before being issued; meanwhile a load of people who know folks with young babies will buy anything they think might help protect them decided they would see if they could make money by selling blanking covers". I'd go with a decent quality BS socket everytime - shielded already by kit that has been built to a standard.
“Never used them for any of mine they were just told no not to touch them. If you remove things the first thing a child will do when you put them back is go and investigate so there really is little point.”
“When I was about 3 I got a shock trying to remove a 13A plug from the socket by levering it out with a spoon (it was the old type of plug without shielded pins) and was lucky enough to be thrown clear by the shock.
The reason I was doing this was because I had seen someone doing the same with one of the plastic plug protectors that we are discussing!”
“They're rubbish. My ds never looked at plug sockets until I bought some. The covers made sockets look like toys, he thought it was a novelty shape sorter. It took about 10 minutes for him to work out how to get them out.“
“I bought some of them covers with my first but he pulled them out! When they weren’t in he didn’t even notice the plug sockets so it was so much safer to not have them in anyways!”
“We had the boots ones, and I struggled to get them out, then Cally (13 months) came over and gave me one that she had taken out.”
“We haven't used them for a while because she (11 months) can get them out without any bother and crawls round with them in her mouth.”
“We use them, but the other week my baby managed to take one of them out.”
“I've always been a bit lazy about them, Rhys (3yrs) and Aaron (2yrs) can easily take them out but I have some in the boys' room which will be taken out before they wake up! “
“I have socket covers in some plugs but Jacob is now old enough to take them out and put them in and whilst I was in Bathroom last week and boys were playing upstairs Jacob (3yrs) had removed the cover from the socket on landing and was showing Thomas (12 months) to put it back in.”
My dad was an electrician and he always said they were more dangerous as they push in the safety device”
“Most children are intuitive enough to find ways of taking them off anyway, so I've never seen much point in them.”
“I read the reports & when our kitchen was re-wired recently I asked the electrician about it. He agreed with the report & I now don't use socket covers.”
“Something that gives a false sense of security is worse than not having it.”
“I never came across these very often when working as a Health and Safety Inspector, they are marketed for domestic use - but for some reason they were very popular in Community Centre-type buildings, where misguided people would rush out to spend money on them. Quickest route to getting rid of them was to seize them. No-one ever appealed against their seizure, for one thing, they are self evidently not as good as the original socket safety system once people take the time to look at how that works.”
“We did do socket covers but they are just a toy to him so they were took off quite quickly!”
“We have ikea ones, mothercare, kiddicare - loads and he (18 months) gets them all out!”
Watch the videos showing how easily crawling babies can remove a socket cover!
The bottom line is:
Safety is designed into UK sockets - plug in covers reduce safety!
Please sign the e-petition on the UK Government website calling for regulation of socket covers.