A Campaign I Can Get Behind

I’ve been saying this for a long time now. Those “child safety” covers for power sockets — invariably peddled by charlatans who claim to know more than the professional engineers who designed the British ring main system more than 60 years ago — do not work.

For one thing, they are totally unnecessary. BS1363, the standard for the 13 amp plug and socket,mandates internal safety shutters in every socket outlet. If you look at any nearby power socket — whether on the wall or on an extension lead, they all have to conform to BS1363 — you will see that the Live and Neutral holes are covered up. The only place you can insert anything is the Narth hole, which is safe to touch anyway. The insertion of a plug pin into the Earth hole retracts the shutters from over the Live and Neutral holes. And the lengths of the pins on the plug and the depths of the shutters are specified such that this only begins to happen when the body of the plug is safely covering the socket.

But “safety” covers can actually make things worse. If a cover is removed (and don’t underestimate what kids are capable of), it can be inserted the wrong way around, thus opening the safety shutters and allowing an object to be inserted into the live socket receptacle. This can’t be done with a BS1363 plug, because the dimensions are such that the Live and Neutral pins would collide with the faceplate before the Earth pin entered far enough to retract the shutters. But these covers are made of thin, flexible plastic and can bend out of the way just enough to fit in upside down.

Some “safety” covers even allowed room for objects to be inserted into the “Live” hole even while the cover was in place.

And what happens when direct sunlight shines on plastic? Answer, it becomes brittle. “Safety” covers used on sockets in a conservatory or any South-facing room may well perish and, in the worst case, break off — leaving the Earth pin firmly retained in the socket by the sprung brass contacts, and the Live and Neutral holes wide open.

See the campaign web site at http://www.fatallyflawed.org.uk/.

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