3 in 4 children have a potential electrical fire hazard in their room

01 August 2016

Children today may be digital natives, but majority are lacking electrical safety savvy


New research1 carried out by Electrical Safety First shows many tech savvy children are leaving themselves open to serious dangers in their bedrooms. Over half (53%) of all children admitted that they had left their phone, laptop or tablet charging on their bed, almost two in five (38%) were guilty of leaving their phones charging under their pillow overnight and over a quarter (27%) have 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.

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 10 electrical items in their bedroom, ranging from fairy lights and hair straighteners to phone chargers and tablets. This is almost 25% 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%) have downloaded or plan to download Pokemon Go – the must-have app for the summer3. 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. 84% of parents admitted to taking risks compared to 79% of children. For example, two in five (41%) parents have used or purchased a cheap unbranded charger.

Emma Apter, Head of Communications, Electrical Safety First commented: “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.”

Dwayne Blanchard, a father of three from Leicester experienced the dangers of unsafe charging first-hand when had a near miss with a potentially devastating fire late last November. Luckily Dwayne had been home later than planned that morning and woke to the smell of burning coming from his son’s bedroom.  Running into the room, he noticed that Brandon had been charging a Bluetooth speaker and his phone under his pillow, which caused the sheets to burst into flames.

"I saw the fire on his pillow, where his phone and Bluetooth speaker were sat. I was able to put it out straight away but if I hadn't been there, it could have burned the house down. I feel like we had a real lucky escape. We're in a semi so it could have been devastating for us and our next-door neighbour."

Since the fire, Dwayne and his partner Rachel have new rules meaning all electronics in the house are now charged downstairs - and nothing is left plugged in overnight or while they go out the house.

"Brandon did have a proper charger for his phone, but the Bluetooth speaker was plugged into a different charger than the one it came with, just because it was the right size. I won't be letting him use a different charger or charge anything under his pillow again."

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.


For more information please contact:

Muireann Kirby T: 020 3463 5105 E: Muireann.kirby@electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk


Christina Copp T: 020 3463 5129 E: Christina.copp@electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk

Editors’ Notes

  • Electrical Safety First is a UK Charity dedicated to reducing and preventing damage, injuries and death caused by electricity. More information can be found at http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk  or by searching #ModernFamily
  • Case studies have supplied images of the damage that an overheated electrical device can cause in a bedroom. These images are available for download here.


  1. 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 24th June to 29th June 2016, and 20th July. Surveys were conducted across the United Kingdom and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.
  2. Electricity Safety First, 2015, A Shocking Rip Off: The true cost of counterfeit electrical products - http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/mediafile/100492991/True-Cost-of-a-Counterfeit.pdf
  3. Censuswide, July 2016, base of 500 children aged between 10-18.

Dos and don’ts for charging safely in children’s 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.