How Safe are Your Children’s Halloween Costumes?

*This is a collaborative guest post

Now that October has crept up on us, it’s time to talk about Halloween costumes.

This year, RoSPA urges parents and carers to be more aware of the dangers of naked flames around clothing, and to only buy costumes marked with the “CE” symbol from reputable retailers.

The dangers of Halloween costumes has been in the spotlight since 2014, when Claudia Winkleman’s daughter received burns after her costume caught fire when it came into contact with a naked flame. This terrifying incident helped to raise awareness of the potential dangers, and we can only hope it has made parents and carers more aware when dressing up their little ones and taking them out trick or treating.

Following testing in UK laboratories, a new stringent, voluntary standard means costumes should have a burn rate of 10mm per minute – 300 per cent slower than the current 30mm per minute standard.

Companies that have tested their costumes to this new standard will be allowed to print “This garment has undergone additional safety testing for flammability” on their labelling. They are also being asked to use more prominent fire safety labelling on packaging and on sew-in labels.

What must be remembered is that no material is 100 per cent fire proof – clothes will burn if they come into contact with a naked flame. The CE standards ensure that the burn rate is slower, giving parents more time to put out a fire or get the clothes off a child, but will not protect against them catching fire in the first place.

The only way to ensure they don’t catch fire, as with all clothing, is to keep Halloween costumes away from naked flames, and that children are supervised by an adult when trick or treating.

The message we really want to convey to parents is the danger of naked flames. You might want to use flameless, battery-operated candles in your pumpkins, and we’d definitely recommend that you accompany your children on their trick or treat outing.

Accidents involving children’s Halloween costumes can happen very quickly – they only need to come briefly into contact with a candle or other naked flame for disaster to strike. The potentially- horrific injuries can leave lifelong scars, and not just physical ones. The distress felt by a child and their family and friends in an incident like this is immeasurable.

Our key advice for parents is:

  • As with all clothing, Halloween and dress-up outfits should always be kept away from fire, lit candles and all other naked flames
  • Always supervise children and pets if using lit candles
  • Do not allow children to carry, play, reach over, light or be near lit candles
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended
  • Remember always to extinguish a candle completely after use
  • Take care when using candles at Halloween. Do not carry pumpkins with lit candles inside, consider using battery-operated candles instead
  • Children should always be supervised by a suitable adult
  • If fireworks are part of your celebrations, follow the Firework Code (see here for more information)
  • Be aware that homemade fancy dress costumes or those not tested to the same flammability standards may ignite easily and burn quicker
  • Ensure children can be seen in the dark; ideally they should wear something reflective such as a reflective strip, and carry a torch.

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