An NICEIC registered contractor has hit the headlines after his facebook post went viral. Steve Palmer, who runs JPS Electrical services in Bristol, posted a video about the dangers of parents using electrical socket covers. The film has now been viewed more than 2.3 million times after the story was picked up by national newspapers and TV stations.
“It has been an incredible few weeks really,” commented Steve, who has been an electrician for just over seven years.
“I put the clip on my own facebook business page and thought I would just alert those in my local area. It then got picked up by a few sites and quickly went viral.
“The Daily Mirror covered the story and I was interviewed by my local ITV news team for the West Country News and BBC Radio Bristol.
“It has all been a bit surreal but if it helps get the message across then it has to be a good thing.”
Steve is a father of five and said many parents are simply oblivious to the risk they are creating by using the plastic fittings to close up plug sockets. He said he has come across the covered sockets many times when working in homes and always advises parents to remove them.
In the video, Steve films his sons Preston and Jayden removing the plastic cover and then using the device to poke around the socket and potentially expose live conductors.
He shared it with fellow sparkies on the Electricians Community group on facebook and from there the video spread quickly.
He added: “I don’t blame parents for using them as they are simply unaware of the dangers. The advice in certain sectors is that they should still be used. However, we electricians know they are flawed and so I believe it is our duty to inform parents about the dangers they pose.”
The issue of using socket covers to protect young children has been a contentious one in recent years. Initially, it was advised that parents should use them to stop children poking fingers in sockets.
However, the classic British plug three-hole plug socket already has a major safety feature integrated into its design, which is undermined by the use of child plug guards.
A British safety standard going back to 1947 means that the top hole in the socket contains a "shutter" inside. Only by inserting a plug, with a top pin, can the shutter be opened, which in turn activates the live part of the socket.
For a child to get an electric shock, therefore, it needs to not only stick their finger deep into the top hole, but also one of the other holes.
While there are no cases of any children being harmed by socket covers Electrical Safety First advised parents to not use covers back in 2009 – highlighting the in-built safety shutter mechanism designed to prevent access to live parts.