Safety: Do you know what your children are plugging into?

Many children’s bedrooms are potential electrical danger zones, according to new research from the AA’s Home Emergency Response Service.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 27th August 2011, 9:47 am

It reveals that although children have a large number of electrical appliances in their rooms, one in three (31 per cent) is rarely or never supervised when using electrical items.

The survey also shows that the wiring in the average British home is more than 16 years old, and 12 per cent of homes have wiring over 30 years old. It says that the combination of old wiring and inappropriate use of electrical appliances could be putting many homes at risk of electrical fires.

With the research highlighting that children’s bedrooms host a wealth of electrical appliances used with little or no adult supervision, these could be among the areas of the house most at risk.

There are more than 3,000 fires a year caused in UK homes by electrical circuits, resulting in several deaths and hundreds of casualties, and thousands more accidental fires ignited by electrical appliances.

The findings reveal that 58 per cent of UK children have a TV in their bedroom, 40 per cent have a mobile phone and charger, 39 per cent have a games console and 32 per cent have a computer.

One in 50 children even have their own fridge in their room.

Yet adults do not always supervise their children’s usage of electrical items, according to the findings.

Nearly one in 10 children under the age of seven is rarely or never supervised when using electrical items, a figure that rises to one in five for children between the age of seven and 10. Nearly half of children between 11 and 13 are rarely or never supervised when using electrical items as are 63 per cent of those aged 14 to 16.

The research also reveals that adults are setting their children a bad example in electrical safety, with over 2.2 million people (five per cent) admitting to having plugged 10 or more electrical items into one wall socket simultaneously, including appliances plugged into extension leads that are connected to a single socket.

Almost one in seven Brits (13 per cent) admits to having plugged more than five items into a single socket.

Tom Stringer, head of AA Home Emergency Response, said: “Plugging numerous appliances into one wall socket can be very dangerous, particularly if you have old wiring or no residual current devices fitted.

“Electrical fires are a very real danger if people are not using electrical appliances responsibly. It is of particular concern that with children using so many electrical appliances, a large proportion of them aren’t supervised when using them.

“People should take the dangers of electricity seriously by taking preventative steps such as ensuring their wiring is checked regularly and not overloading plugs and sockets.”

The AA offers the following electrical safety advice:

l Get a professional to check your wiring on a regular basis – the Electrical Safety Council recommend every 10 years for domestic properties3

l Avoid trailing electrical wires

l Check plugs, sockets and cables regularly for signs of damage or scorching

l Switch off electric appliances before you go to bed

l Never put drinks or other liquids on or near electric appliances

Teach your children how to use electricity and electric appliances responsibly and safely, for example, not letting them touch electrical equipment when they are wet.