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I bought and installed an electrical outlet with USB chargers. Then, I childproof the power outlet and wondered if the USB ports needed to be childproof too? What if my two-year-old toddler put a flat screw driver in to it? Would it be problematic?

Update:
I've emailed the manufacturer and they gave a similar answer to what you guys give -- There is no harm to the child but in the case of short circuit we have to rely on the fuse and the breaker. So Thanks every one for the answer.

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  • +1 b/c I had not thought of such a question. There are a few techie types on here, but it might be helpful to consider posting this question on a more tech form and posting the reply here... not sure what proper form on SE is for a question which is apropos for multiple venues. Apr 15 '14 at 6:16
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    @JeremyMiller The question is quite fine here (I +1'd it too) and there are many of us here who are "techie types" (heck, even using the stack exchange marks you as at least a little "techie"). As seen by the answers already posted, definitely no issue ^_^
    – Doc
    Apr 15 '14 at 18:08
  • How do you "childproof" the power outlet? If you mean something like: amazon.co.uk/Plug-Socket-Covers/b?ie=UTF8&node=60572031 - those are actively dangerous, and provide a tool for a child to access dangerous voltages which are not otherwise accessible. Jul 31 '18 at 9:52
  • Note: My comment is specific to UK sockets. Other sockets designs may be safer with socket covers. Jul 31 '18 at 9:54
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It would be problematic in the sense that short circuiting the pins may damage the USB charger. There are no health risks. At worst, the child will be subjected to 5 volts. The resulting 'shock' is not only harmless, it is not even noticable, roughly equivalent to replacing the batteries from the tv remote with your bare hands. If instead of poking the device with a screwdriver, your toddler licks the USB socket, he may notice a mild sensation which I assume to be unpleasant, but not painful or dangerous.

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  • 3
    Lol. Did you pick this username because of the comment on the question? If so, that's awesome
    – SomeShinyObject
    Apr 15 '14 at 23:49
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    @ChristopherW: Certainly. I'm not quite in the target demographic of this site, but decided to answer this question anyway. I figured this username might inform why.
    – TechieType
    Apr 16 '14 at 18:19
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    As I'm the testing type - I can clarify, you don't get much of a sensation from licking a USB port. The tingle from a 9v battery is much more fun :-)
    – Rory Alsop
    Apr 17 '14 at 8:19
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Short answer - Don't. USB sockets only output 5 volts and up to 3 amps (usually 1 amp or less), well below the threshold for if it could hurt anyone, including toddlers.

There really isn't a need to spend more money on covers which aren't needed, the only concern would be if somehow your child worked out how to short the current on the charger, although this would usually require taking the charger apart, which requires a screwdriver.

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    Never underestimate the ingenuity, dexterity, determination, or (at times) suicidal tendencies of toddlers. ;) my kids learned to use screwdrivers by the time they could use a spoon.
    – Jax
    Apr 17 '14 at 1:36
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You could always try something like these USB Covers [Amazon].

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    Thanks, I will consider that just for a piece of my (wife's) mind.
    – NawaMan
    Apr 16 '14 at 6:37
  • Or even for her peace of mind - very important!
    – Liam
    May 4 '15 at 20:54
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The amperage on a USB socket is typically 0.5-1.0A on a PC, sometimes less (300mA is common for a low power device). High current USB chargers are usually 2.0-2.5A, for instance the Google Nexus 7 tablet charger and some new smartphone chargers, however most mobile phone chargers are 700-1000mA, for instance a Nokia 520/525 would be 750mA and a Samsung Galaxy Nexus charger is 1.0A. As user7316 says - well below the threshold (he calls it a line) for any damage, and shorting the current would require shorting between charger pins - inserting a screwdriver into the port wouldn't do it.

Nevertheless, Jax makes a decent point - childproofing is as much about making things like screwdrivers unavailable to children and watching their behaviour to prevent 'excursions' as it is removing places to stick them.

As TechieType says - it's a 5V design - not enough volts or amps to feel it unless you use your tongue. Whatever the current is on the wall plate, only needs covering if you think it is in any way possible for your child to use leverage on it to break the plastic (probably not a problem if it's a metal cover) and expose themselves to whatever voltage your house mains electricity is. Hopefully the breaker would go - having an electrician check these are actually working correctly might be a good idea, as doing things like using 10A 'fast trip' breakers instead of 20A 'slower' breakers may be advisable with kids. All these breakers essentially melt at different speeds depending on the thickness and material involved, and the current involved when the thing breaks, so ensuring they're working as designed can be the difference between a life-saving trip and a nasty accident.*

*mild hyperbole involved, but all true.

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The official voltage for USB is 5V. Some smartphones communicate with the USB charger and ask it to output more, but that would not happen if a child puts the cable in his/her mouth. 5V is safe to put in a human's mouth, it may result in a small tingle or unpleasant metallic taste.

The issue is with badly/cheaply built USB chargers. They do not provide adequate protection, and may even put mains voltage directly on the USB cable. Example

In summary:

  • Do not worry about USB cables connected to well-built USB chargers.
  • Avoid kids putting the USB charger itself in their mouth.
  • Avoid cheap chargers that do not adhere to safety regulations. They are extremely dangerous. Graphic example

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