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The NHS and Department of Education have recently highlighted serious concerns with the child safety socket covers. UK sockets are designed in such a way that it is extremely difficult for a child to insert their fingers or other objects into them. People have been buying socket covers thinking that this will offer even greater protection. However, it has become apparent that such covers can actually damage the plug sockets, leaving the socket live and making it easier for children to insert items into them. There are also concerns that these covers are a fire risk. The NHS and the Department of Education are advising that these covers are removed from all nurseries, education establishments and care homes by December 2016. It would seem sensible for all parents to follow this advice and remove these from their sockets too.

If you suspect someone is being electrocuted; your own safety is paramount; turn off the electricity at the mains before touching them. Check for response and then check for breathing. Do not be distracted by any burns. If they are unconscious and breathing – put them into the recovery position. If they are unconscious and not breathing – start CPR. If they are conscious and appear ok; get them checked by a medical professional. Electrocution can interrupt the heart rhythm. Electrical burns can go right through the body.

In June, the Department of Health published an estate and facilities alert on the dangers of socket safety covers, which states that 13A electrical socket inserts should not be used in health or social care premises, nor supplied for use in a home or residence. Childcare providers have a duty to keep children safe. Although it is not illegal to use electrical safety socket covers, the Department for Education recommends that providers should take into account the advice included in this alert when carrying out their own risk assessment.

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