Following a recent safety alert by the Department of Health about the dangers of using plug socket covers, it is clear there is lots of conflicting information about how to keep your home and setting safe. With little children running around the house it is important that your home is as made as safe as can be against any possible electrical hazards.
Many parents and childcare providers are quick to protect their homes using plastic plug socket covers as a way of preventing little hands fiddling in dangerous places. However, there is little clear evidence about the safety of these.
In fact, Electrical Safety First has said: "We don’t promote the use of socket blanking plugs as we don’t consider normal household sockets a serious risk to children. These sockets have built in safety shutters to prevent access to the live parts inside. However, we understand that using these plugs may give parents and carers additional peace of mind. It’s your choice."
So, although socket blanking plugs may create a physical barrier to a socket, UK sockets all have built-in protection. In fact, some people consider the plastic blank plugs to be more of a danger, because by inserting them into the socket, it creates a false sense of security. Very often, the plastic blanks are a poor fit to the socket and in some instances, using them can override the socket’s integral safety mechanisms.
The regulators who inspect you (Ofsted or CSSIW) will not advise one way or the other. You should consider electrical safety as part of your overall risk assessment.
The safest single way to protect your home, family and clients from electrical accidents in the home is to ensure an RCD is fitted. RCDs – residual current devices – can be installed into your fuse box or used in wall sockets. If the RCD detects a change in the current that could indicate a fault, it will cut the electricity in milliseconds, helping protect you. Clear rules about what is safe for children to touch and any electrical items removed from their level are also vital.