We have not found a plug-in cover which can not be inserted upside down and thus open internal shutters. However, we have come to realise that there are a number of other issues which make some covers even more dangerous, for this reason we are identifying, where possible, all the covers which we show.
If any supplier believes that the problems we highlight do not affect their products we would be pleased to hear from them and will consider publishing their comments here.
As part of our research we have studied the information provided on packaging, and have also approached a number of suppliers about any electrical standards which apply to their products, and what insulation testing is used. So far no supplier has been able to provide any information on standards or insulation testing, either on the packaging or in answer to our enquiries.
One supplier does include the following warning on the packet:
“Discontinue use when child is able to remove it”
This suggests to us that they are aware of the potential dangers of using their product!
We issue a challenge to all suppliers: If you have a good reason to believe that your product offers superior protection compared to that specified by BS 1363 then please tell us what it is, if your claim stands up to rigorous testing then we will be pleased to publish the results. Similarly, if any supplier believes that they can identify any shortcomings in the BS 1363 standard then we undertake to ensure that their information is placed in the hands of the IET and the standards and regulatory bodies so that it may be properly considered.
So far we have received no information to suggest that there is a valid case for using plug-in socket covers in the United Kingdom.
The following reply from Mothercare is typical of the way in which suppliers respond to our letters, you may think that it indicates a greater interest in appearance than safety:
“We remain confident in the quality and design of our socket covers and we are continuing them throughout our range in both silver and white due to customer demand.
Our intention is to offer parents choice. Choice to purchase socket covers and the choice to match them to their sockets, whether they are white plastic or a silver-coloured metal.”
Mothercare’s socket cover packaging includes the statement “prevents children from placing sharp objects into plug sockets”, they have so far ignored the fact that their product does exactly the opposite!
If suppliers are unable to meet the challenges above then we believe that they have no legitimate case for offering a product which is without proven value, but which places children in danger!
Clippasafe, who also make the John Lewis and Boots covers, claim to have has sold more than 4.5 million covers since the year 2000. In an IET Magazine article about FatallyFlawed the managing director, Roger Cheetham, said they received no customer complaints.
(However, Clippasafe have always ignored requests for action from FatallyFlawed, both directly and through Boots and John Lewis.)
Mr Cheetham argues that the shutter in a normal three-pin socket is not inherently safe because a child could insert a small object into the earth aperture and thereby expose the live terminals. “Our socket covers can only be removed by using the earth pin of a plug,” he said. “It is much easier for a child to remove a plug itself and invert it, so it is therefore far safer to cover up the area.”
As FatallyFlawed has demonstrated, Mr Cheetham’s comments are nonsense! The Clippasafe cover is manufactured with non-standard length pins, what happens when inserted into a standard socket is entirely unpredictable. In some perfectly good BS 1363 sockets it is impossible to properly insert the cover into the socket, it simply pops back out leaving a gap of several millimetres, making it extremely easy for even the smallest child to remove. (See our video) We (and many babies) have found that it not difficult to remove with the fingers alone, even when in a socket which does not cause it to pop out. His claim that it is therefore far safer to cover up the area is erroneous, as the hole in the cover, (intended for the earth pin used for extraction) provides direct access into the live contact of the socket. Furthermore, we have found that when inserting the Clippasafe cover into the earth pin only it is prone to break, leaving the broken earth pin permanently holding open the shutters. All this is shown in photographs and video on this site.
We look forward to Clippasafe, and the other manufacturers, acknowledging that their products are both unnecessary and dangerous.
The bottom line is:
Safety is designed into UK sockets - plug in covers reduce safety!