AA Home Emergency Response

AA Home Emergency Response

November 08, 2011 06:00 ET

Children's Bedrooms Are Potential Electrical Danger Zones, Says New Research

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

12% of British homes have wiring over 30 years old

2.2 million people admit to having plugged 10 or more electrical appliances into a single plug socket

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Nov. 8, 2011) - Many children's bedrooms are potential electrical danger zones, according to new research1 from the AA's Home Emergency Response Service. It reveals that although children have a large number of electrical appliances in their rooms, one in three (31%) is rarely or never supervised when using electrical items.

The survey from AA Home Emergency Response 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. 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 over 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 appliances2.

The findings reveal that 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.

The research also reveals that 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.

Adults in Leeds are taking the highest risk with electrical sockets, with one in four people (26%) admitting to having plugged more than five electrical items into a single wall socket before. Only six per cent of people in Liverpool admits to having over-used a wall socket to this extent.

City breakdown of over-use of electrical sockets
City Percentage of adult population who have plugged more than 5 electrical items into a single wall socket
Leeds 26 %
Bristol 19 %
London 17 %
Edinburgh 16 %
Birmingham 16 %
Norwich 16 %
Sheffield 14 %
Milton Keynes 13 %
Southampton 12 %
Cardiff 10 %
Glasgow 10 %
Newcastle 9 %
Manchester 8 %
Nottingham 8 %
Plymouth 7 %
Liverpool 6 %
UK 13 %

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:

  • 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

Notes to editors:

1Research was carried out by ICM amongst a GB representative sample of 2,005 adults between 8th and 10th July 2011.

2Fire Statistics, UK, 2008 (http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/corporate/statistics/firestatisticsuk2008).

Supplementary data table: Electrical items in children's bedrooms
Electrical item Percentage of children who have one of these items in their bedroom
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 %

About AA Home Emergency Response

AA Home Emergency Response cover provides a network of AA Home Assist engineers supported by approved tradesmen available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are no call-out charges and policy excesses only apply to boiler cover and for work carried out under the policy, parts and labour are guaranteed. Cover is available to both existing AA members and non members.

Customers wishing to find out more information should visit:

www.theaa.com/home-emergency or call 0800 107 1031

Contact Information

  • AA Press Office
    Sue Beeson
    01256 492874

    Citigate Dewe Rogerson
    Ian Morris
    020 7638 9571

    Citigate Dewe Rogerson
    Brandon Stockwell
    020 7638 9571