Three in four children have potential electrical fire hazard in bedroom

Wed 3 Aug, 2016

Research carried out by the charity Electrical Safety First shows that many tech savvy children are leaving themselves open to serious dangers in their bedrooms.

In a recent survey, just over half of all children admitted that they had left their phone, laptop or tablet charging on their bed. About a third were guilty of leaving their phones charging under their pillow overnight, and just over a quarter had bought or used a cheap unbranded charger.

Charging appliances on beds – which this research reveals is a common occurrence – 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.

Electrical Safety First's Emma Apter said: “The research shows that unwittingly, many parents and children are taking big risks with their safety. Technology has advanced at a rapid pace over the last 20 years and children’s bedrooms now contain more sophisticated technology than ever before.

"Many parents are unaware of the electrical dangers in their children’s bedrooms and how one person’s bad habits could put the whole family at risk. We’d like parents to understand the risks and lead by example.”

Electrical Safety First found that children have on average 10 electrical items in their bedroom, ranging from fairy lights and hair straighteners to phone chargers and tablets. This is almost 25 per cent more than the number of electrical items that their parents’ generation had in their bedroom when growing up.

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.

The research also shows that more than five out of six children (84 per cent) have downloaded or plan to download Pokemon Go – the so-called must-have app for the summer. As the game quickly drains device batteries, chargers will be playing an even bigger part in family life.

Worryingly, the findings show that parents are even more likely than their children to take risks with electrics, with 84 per cent of parents admitting taking risks compared to 79 per cent of children.

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

Top tips for charging safely in children’s bedrooms, from Buckinghashire Fire & Rescue Service and Electrical Safety First

  • DON’T charge phones, tablets or any electrical device on your bed, under a pillow or anywhere the device might overheat. Charge on a hard surface such as a desk or table. Avoid charging devices unattended or overnight.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • DO check plugs, sockets and cables regularly for signs of damage or scorching.
  • DO make sure children understand how to use electricity and electric appliances responsibly and safely.


Survey details: All research results unless otherwise stated are from Censuswide. Total sample sizes were 1,002 children aged 10-18 and 1,002 parents of children aged 10-18. Fieldwork took place from 24 June to 29 June 2016, and 20 July. Surveys were conducted across the United Kingdom and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.