Plug Socket Covers: Creating the Danger They Claim to Solve

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Plug Socket Covers: Creating the Danger They Claim to Solve

For many new and expecting parents, a plug socket cover is a no brainer when baby proofing your home. They’re seen everywhere, including in GP waiting rooms and hospitals across the country, so they must be a safety essential, right? Well, no. Plug socket covers in British sockets may actually be causing more danger than they are solving.

Image showing a dual plug socket, one with an appliance plugged in and one with a socket cover

What is a plug socket cover?

Plug socket covers are small plastic discs that have the 3 prongs of a plug on the back. They are designed to be plugged into a wall socket, supposedly to prevent objects or small fingers from being inserted into the socket.

So what’s the problem?

British plug sockets that conform to BS 1363 standard (which was originally introduced in 1947) have been specifically designed to keep children safe. Babies fingers are not small enough to fit inside the socket far enough to touch live parts, but even if they could, there are insulated shutters inside the holes to stop this.

Sockets have been made to only fit plugs that also have strict requirements. Nothing that doesn’t fit these requirements should ever be plugged into a socket – and plug socket covers do not conform.

The BS 1363 standard actually specifically refers to the fact that plug socket covers are not required: “Socket-outlets conforming to this standard are shuttered and therefore do not require the use of additional means to shield the current-carrying contacts when no plug is present in the socket-outlet.”

They create the problem they are trying to solve

The shutter feature of British sockets means that the insulated shutters covering the live parts of the plug remains closed until something is inserted into the top pin hole.

A curious child could easily insert a plug socket cover into the plug upside down, which will then be held in place with the shutters open. This leaves them with both hands free to insert an object into the now exposed live sections of the plug.

Image showing a plug socket cover upside down, exposing live parts of the socket

Plug socket covers make it easy to defeat your sockets in-built safety features.

Fire hazard

If all of the above isn’t bad enough, plug socket covers are also a fire hazard.

A plug socket cover will look the same as a 13A plug, but plugs must conform to very specific size requirements that plug socket covers simply don’t. Putting the wrong size and shape into your plug socket can cause a number of problems including damage to the shutters, overheating, or fires.