Friday, December 28, 2007

United States Patent (WWW.USPTO.GOV)
7,094,969
In
August 22, 2006
Sliding and locking safety cover for electrical outlets
Abstract
An electrical outlet safety cover is provided that includes a sliding cover plate and spring-loaded catches to limit children's access to electrical outlets but to offer quick and easy access to users. The base plate on the safety cover replaces a conventional electrical outlet plate. It includes apertures for electrical outlets and for an attaching screw, and a top panel with two catches and a slot for an opposing catch. The vertical sides of the base plate fit into matching grooves on the vertical sides of a cover plate, which also includes a catch and slots for the catches on the base plate. When the catches are released, the cover plate can thus slide down the base plate, revealing the electrical outlets for use. To prevent access to the outlets, the cover plate can be slid up the base plate until all three catches securely lock.
Inventors:
In; Chanthim (San Jose, CA)
Appl. No.:
11/224,342
Filed:
September 12, 2005
Current U.S. Class:
174/66 ; 174/67; 220/241
Current International Class:
H02G 3/14 (20060101)
Field of Search:
174/66,67 220/241,242
References Cited [Referenced By]
U.S. Patent Documents
4293173
October 1981
Tricca
4950842
August 1990
Menninga
D346949
May 1994
Comerci et al.
6916989
July 2005
Broussard, Jr.
Foreign Patent Documents
1220119
Dec., 1958
FR
1198670
Jul., 1970
GB
Primary Examiner: Patel; Dhiru R. Attorney, Agent or Firm: Galasso; Raymond M. Galasso & Associates, LP (WWW.GAPATENTS.COM)
Claims
What is claimed is:1. An electrical outlet safety cover, comprising an apertured base plate to replace the conventional face plate on an electrical outlet, the base plate comprising a top panel that matches the dimensions of a cover plate such that the top panel and cover plate join when the cover plate is in the closed position to limit access to the electrical outlet; a cover plate that in the closed position substantially covers the base plate; a sliding means, such that the cover plate can be slid along the vertical edges of the base plate; and a locking means, comprising at least one spring-loaded catch with a finger release mounted on the top panel of the base plate; at least one slot on the top panel of the base plate; at least one spring-loaded catch with a finger release mounted on the cover plate, such that at least one spring-loaded catch with a finger release on the cover plate fits lockably into at least one slot on the top panel of the base plate; and at least one slot on the cover plate, such that at least one slot on the cover plate fits lockably over at least one spring-loaded catch with a finger release on the top panel of the base plate. 2. The base plate of claim 1, wherein the base plate comprises at least one aperture that may be placed over an electrical outlet, and at least one aperture through which a screw may be inserted. 3. The aperture that may be placed over an electrical outlet of claim 2, wherein the aperture that may be placed over an electrical outlet comprises two apertures that may be placed over the two sockets on a conventional electrical outlet. 4. The sliding means of claim 1, wherein the sliding means comprises a groove on each vertical edge of the cover plate such that each vertical edge of the base plate can be fit into a groove on the cover plate, and the cover plate can be slid along the vertical edges of the base plate. 5. The sliding means of claim 1, wherein the sliding means comprises a groove on each vertical side of the base plate such that a tongue on each vertical edge of the cover plate can be fit into a groove on the base plate, and the cover plate can be slid along the vertical edges of the base plate. 6. An electrical outlet safety cover, comprising an apertured base plate to replace the conventional face plate on an electrical outlet; the base plate comprising a top panel that matches the dimensions of a cover plate such that the top panel and cover plate join when the cover plate is in the closed position to limit access to the electrical outlet, at least one aperture that may be placed over an electrical outlet, and at least one aperture through which a screw may be inserted; a cover plate that in the closed position substantially covers the base plate; a sliding means, such that the cover plate can be slid along the vertical edges of the base plate; and a locking means for locking the cover plate to the base plate such that the cover plate can be locked into a closed position that substantially covers the electrical outlet, the locking means comprising two spring-loaded catches with finger releases mounted on the top panel of the base plate; one slot on the top panel of the base plate; one spring-loaded catch with a finger release mounted on the cover plate, such that the spring-loaded catch on the cover plate fits lockably into the slot on the top panel of the base plate; and two slots on the cover plate, such that the slots on the cover plate fit lockably over the spring-loaded catches with finger releases on the top panel of the base plate. 7. The aperture that may be placed over an electrical outlet of claim 6, wherein the aperture that may be placed over an electrical outlet comprises two apertures that may be placed over the two sockets on a conventional electrical outlet. 8. The sliding means of claim 6, wherein the sliding means comprises a groove on each vertical edge of the cover plate such that each vertical edge of the base plate can be fit into a groove on the cover plate, and the cover plate can be slid along the vertical edges of the base plate. 9. The sliding means of claim 6, wherein the sliding means comprises a groove on each vertical side of the base plate such that a tongue on each vertical edge of the cover plate can be fit into a groove on the base plate, and the cover plate can be slid along the vertical edges of the base plate. 10. An electrical outlet safety cover, comprising an apertured base plate to replace the conventional face plate on an electrical outlet; the base plate comprising a top panel that matches the dimensions of a cover plate such that the top panel and cover plate join when the cover plate is in the closed position to limit access to the electrical outlet; two apertures that may be placed over the two sockets on a conventional electrical outlet; and an aperture through which a screw may be inserted; a cover plate that in the closed position substantially covers the base plate, the cover plate comprising a groove on each vertical side such that each vertical edge of the base plate can be fit into a groove on the cover plate, and the cover plate can be slid along the vertical edges of the base plate; a locking means for locking the cover plate to the base plate such that the cover plate can be locked into a closed position that fully covers the electrical outlet, the locking means comprising two spring-loaded catches with finger releases mounted on the top panel of the base plate; a slot on the top panel of the base plate; a spring-loaded catch with a finger release mounted on the cover plate, such that the spring-loaded catch on the cover plate fits lockably into the slot on the top panel of the base plate; and two slots on the cover plate, such that the slots on the cover plate fits lockably over the spring-loaded catches on the top panel of the base plate.
Description
FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE The present invention relates to safety devices for controlling access to electrical outlets and more particularly to an electrical outlet safety cover with a sliding and locking outer plate. BACKGROUND Electrical outlets for supplying electrical power to appliances and machines are common fixtures in homes and buildings. A persistent danger associated with electrical outlets is that children may insert their fingers or other objects into the openings of electrical outlets and be injured or killed or may cause injury to their surroundings. This is a particular risk when nothing is plugged into the openings of the outlets, making them inviting targets for children's curiosity. Because of this danger, many safety devices have been created to limit children's access to the openings in these outlets. For example, plastic safety plugs with prongs that fit snugly into the openings are readily available on the market. Typically parents or other responsible persons insert the safety plugs into electrical outlets, and the plugs fit securely enough that small children have difficulty removing them from the openings with their fingers. Unfortunately one should never underestimate the resourcefulness of small children, who may remove safety plugs with scissors, knives, paperclips, or other tools and so place themselves in danger. Merely by being visible, safety plugs may themselves be taken as a challenge for removal by some children. Other safety devices for electrical outlets are known in the art. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,950,842 for Menninga provides a base plate with apertures to replace the conventional face plate of an electrical outlet and a box-like outer cover that locks over the base plate, with openings for passage of an electric cord. A stop bar blocks access to the outlet by children, and the locks on the device are covered by the outer cover and can be released only by an external, magnetic force. Although this device offers substantial protection for children, it may be difficult and awkward to use in some circumstances. For example, a user may need to remove the outer cover quickly to insert a power cord but may not have the required magnetic force at hand. Therefore there is a need for an electrical outlet safety cover with a sliding plate and spring-loaded catches to securely limit children's access to the empty openings in an electrical outlet but to offer quick and easy access to responsible users. SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE The following explanation describes the present invention by way of example and not by way of limitation. It is an aspect of the present invention to provide an electrical outlet safety cover with a sliding plate and spring-loaded catches to securely limit children's access to the empty openings in an electrical outlet but to offer quick and easy access to users. These and other aspects of the present invention will become readily apparent upon further review of the following specification and associated drawings. In accordance with the present invention, an electrical outlet safety cover is provided that comprises a sliding cover plate and spring-loaded catches to limit children's access to electrical outlets but to offer quick and easy access to users. The base plate on the safety cover replaces a conventional electrical outlet plate. It comprises apertures for electrical outlets and for an attaching screw, and a top panel with two catches and a slot for an opposing catch. The vertical sides of the base plate fit into matching grooves on the vertical sides of a cover plate, which also comprises a catch and slots for the catches on the base plate. When the catches are released, the cover plate can thus slide down the base plate, revealing the electrical outlets for use. To prevent access to the outlets, the cover plate can be slid up the base plate until all three catches securely lock. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS The following embodiments of the present invention are described by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which: FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a sliding and locking safety cover for electrical outlets with the cover plate fully opened; FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a sliding and locking safety cover mounted to an electrical outlet; and FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a sliding and locking safety cover for electrical outlets with the cover plate fully closed.
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