Home electrical safety

Childrens's bedrooms are potential danger zone

22 August 2011

One in three children (31%) is not supervised by their parents when using electrical items

Many children's bedrooms are potential electrical danger zones, according to new research from the AA's Home Emergency Response Service. Although children have a  large number of electrical appliances in their rooms, one in three (31%) is rarely or never supervised when using them.

The survey also shows that the wiring in the average British home is over 16 years old, and 12% of homes have wiring over 30 years old. The combination of old wiring and inappropriate use of electrical appliances could be putting many homes at risk of electrical fires. Children’s bedrooms could be among the areas of the house most at risk.

Electrical fires

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

Children's bedrooms

Plugging numerous appliances into one wall socket can be very dangerous, particularly if you have old wiring or no Residual Current Device fitted

Tom Stringer, Head of AA Home Emergency Response

58% of UK children have a TV in their bedroom, 40% have a mobile phone and charger, 39% have a games console and 32% 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 (8%) children under the age of seven is rarely or never supervised when using electrical items, a figure that rises to one in five (20%) for children between the age of seven and 10. Nearly half of children (43%) between 11 and 13 are rarely or never supervised when using electrical items as are 63% of 14 to 16 year-olds.

Setting a bad example

Adults are setting their children a bad example in electrical safety, with over 2.2 million people (5%) 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%) 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 Device 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."

Electrical safety advice

  • Get a professional to check your wiring on a regular basis - the Electrical Safety Council recommend every 10 years for domestic properties
  • Avoid trailing electrical wires
  • Check plugs, sockets and cables regularly for signs of damage or scorching
  • Switch off electric games, computers, TVs and other electric appliances before you go to bed
  • Never put drinks or other liquids on or near electric appliances
  • Don't let children touch electrical equipment while they are wet, e.g. before drying-off after a bath or shower
  • Make sure children understand how to use electricity and electric appliances responsibly and safely

What's in children's bedrooms?

TV 58%
Bedside lamp 51%
Mobile phone and charger 40%
Games console 39%
Computer 32%
iPod or similar    26%
Hair dryer 22%
Radio    21%
Hi-fi system 21%
Hair straighteners 17%
Printer    9%
Electrical toys e.g. scalextric    9%
Electrical instruments e.g. keyboard or electric guitar 9%
Scanner    4%
Fridge 2%
Record player 2%
Mixer 1%
Microwave 1%
Kettle    1%

Research carried out by ICM amongst a GB representative sample of 2,005 adults between 8th and 10th July 2011

Electrical fires data from Fire Statistics, UK, 2008

(23 August 2011)