Which? report highlights pros and cons of socket covers

Independent consumer guide Which? has published a guide for parents on the pros and cons of socket covers.

Which? independently tests a range of safety and nursery products, including car seats, stair gates, and pushchairs. Their advice on socket covers is broadly the same as CAPT’s – socket covers are unnecessary. Below we give you a run-down of their main points.

Sockets are safe

The Which? report begins by highlighting the safety of plug sockets without covers, explaining that it is difficult for a child to get a shock from a normal plug socket.

By law, all plug sockets must have safety shutters that prevent children accessing the live terminals. This means that socket covers shouldn’t be necessary - even if children do stick their fingers into plug sockets, they won’t be touching any live wires.

In the opinion of the Electrical Safety Council (ESC), 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 the Electrical Safety Council is not aware of any incident data to suggest that there is any real or potential problem with this type of socket-outlet that would necessitate the use of socket covers.

Covers stop children plugging things in

In some cases, socket covers could prevent children plugging in equipment that is otherwise dangerous – irons and hair straighteners, for example. However, if all dangerous equipment is kept out of children’s reach, then this problem goes away.

Are socket covers actually more dangerous?

The Which? report broadly agrees that there is little danger from normal plug sockets, and points out that some socket covers can actually make plug sockets more dangerous.

“Independent testing by Which? showed that all the plug socket covers on test would stay in place when inserted upside down, leaving the safety shutters open. With the shutters open, there is nothing to stop a child inserting objects directly into the live and neutral ports.”

The ESC notes that there is a lack of evidence to support this argument. A policy statement on their website makes the issue clear:

“We will take rapid action on socket covers if we are presented with evidence that they are potentially dangerous. At the moment, we believe resources are best directed towards educating children, and those responsible for their care, to help keep them safe around electricity.”

More information

Read the Which? report

Read the Electrical Safety Council’s statement on socket covers

Updated June 2011