Warnings about potential fire hazards

New research carried out by Electrical Safety First shows that many tech savvy children are leaving themselves open to serious dangers in their bedrooms. Health and Safety

Over half (53 per cent) of all children admitted that they had left their phone, laptop or tablet charging on their bed, almost two in five (38 per cent) were guilty of leaving their phones charging under their pillow overnight and over a quarter (27 per cent) have bought or used a cheap unbranded charger.

Charging appliances on beds leaves families open to a real risk of fire. If a device, such as a phone or a tablet, is left surrounded by bedding or under a pillow, there is nowhere for the generated heat to dissipate and it will to become hotter and hotter. The heat caused by the device, combined with flammable materials, has the potential to cause fire and put property or even lives in danger. Even if the device is manufactured to the correct safety standards, it can still become very dangerous, very quickly, if not charged on a table or similar appropriate environment.

The finding that over a quarter of all children surveyed have used or purchased a cheap unbranded charger is also extremely worrying. Counterfeit or substandard chargers are the most potentially dangerous counterfeit items Electrical Safety First has tested2. These chargers often contain faulty parts that can overheat and catch fire or deliver a fatal electric shock.

Electrical Safety First found that children have on average ten electrical items in their bedroom, ranging from fairy lights and hair straighteners to phone chargers and tablets.

The number of electronic items in children’s and teens’ rooms, combined with an increasing number of counterfeit or substandard electrical products on the market, means children today are exposed to many more electrical safety risks compared to their parents’ generation. Worryingly, the findings show that parents are even more likely than their children to take risks with electrics.

Dos and don’ts for charging safely in bedrooms

  • DO make sure laptops, phones, tablets and any other electrical devices are charged on a hard surface such as a desk or table.
  • DON’T charge phones, tablets or any electrical device on your bed, under a pillow or anywhere the device might overheat. Avoid charging devices unattended or overnight.
  • DO make sure that children keep their rooms tidy and dust free, clothes left on electrical devices such as games consoles can cause vents to be blocked and the device to overheat and catch fire.
  • DO get everyone in your family into the habit of switching off electric games, computers, TVs and other electric appliances before you go to bed.
  • DON’T use or let children use fake or unbranded chargers. Many of these chargers do not satisfy UK safety regulations and can cause serious electric shock, injury or fire.
  • DO check plugs, sockets and cables regularly for signs of damage or scorching.
  • DON’T overload electric plug sockets. If you’re not sure if your socket is overloaded you can check on this calculator.
  • DON’T put drinks or other liquids on or near electric appliances. After bathing or showering children should be fully dry before using an electrical device. Water and electricity are a lethal combination.
  • DO make sure children understand how to use electricity and electric appliances responsibly and safely.

Electrical Safety First has produced a short video to highlight the dangers of charging an electrical device on a bed. For advice about how to keep you and your family safe in the home, visit www.electricalsafetyfirst.org. uk/modernfamily.

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