Parents are being warned about potentially deadly children’s Halloween costumes after fire service flammability tests saw several costumes go up in flames in under a minute.
Fire safety experts from Surrey Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) conducted tests on trick or treating costumes by setting fire to a number of clothes and accessories including witch hats, capes, skeleton tights and pumpkin tops.
Video of the tests showed three of the garments catching fire within a few seconds.
Children across the country are expected to dress up and go out trick or treating on Halloween on October 31st
FANCY DRESS TREATED AS TOYS
Children’s fancy dress costumes are treated as toys under current safety standards.
Under EN71-2, outfits are set alight in controlled conditions. The flame must not spread faster than 3cm per second. Anything with a burning rate between 1cm and 3cm per second must carry a label saying: ‘Warning! Keep away from fire.’
Those that pass this test can carry a CE safety marking, but there is growing concern that these can be easily faked.
SFRS and Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards said they wanted to illustrate the ‘potential fire risks associated with some Halloween costumes and to demonstrate how dangerous some costumes can be.’
Matt Harper, SFRS’s Fire Investigation Station Commander said: ‘All costumes can burn but some have undergone additional flammability testing, meaning that they are slightly safer.’
The call comes weeks ahead of Halloween celebrations when supermarkets and online shops are full of dress up for children to enjoy trick-or-treating and parties over the weekend of October 31.
The two t-shirts in the video, both which are designed for kids, took less than a minute to be engulfed in flames.
Firefighters set fire to a number of clothes and accessories as part of the test, including witch hats, capes, skeleton tights and pumpkin tops
They are now been submitted for further testing and investigation.
The video shows two child-sized mannequins wearing pumpkin and monster Halloween-themed t-shirts catch fire at a scary pace, leaving the mannequins blackened and burned.
Officials from SFRS and Trading Standards both provided advice on how to protect your children from potentially dangerous Halloween costumes.
Ian Smith, Trading Standards Supervisor shares four simple tips to be safe this Halloween: ‘ Always look at the label, it must have a UKCA or CE.
‘Remember to check wigs, masks and if you are going to make a costume, check the material you are using. Get children to wear clothes under their costume for added protection should the worst happen.
He also advised: ‘use face paints rather than a mask. You can buy from a reputable retailer, however, do an allergy test first to make sure there is no reaction against the skin.’
Matt Harper, Fire Investigation Station Commander at SFRS also recommends a safer way of lighting pumpkins this year.
He said: ‘One of the safest things that you can do this Halloween is to swap out your tealights for torches or glow sticks. This can greatly help to reduce the risk of costumes catching fire. Halloween should be spooky, but not dangerous.’
The Surrey Fire and Rescue Service made the video to warn parents of the dangers Halloween costumes can pose due to their materials, as well as giving tips and safe alternative options
Some of Surrey Fire and Rescue Service’s tips included wearing clothes underneath the costume to add an extra layer of protection for your children
The dangers of Halloween costumes hit the headlines in 2014 when Strictly Come Dancing presenter Claudia Winkleman’s daughter suffered second degree burns on her legs.
Winkleman’s daughter, Matilda, aged eight at the time, suffered the severe burns after her Halloween costume touched an open flame while trick-or-treating and it quickly set alight.
Neighbour Jamie Poulton sustained second-degree burns after he tried to help put out the flames from the costume with his bare hands, to what he described as a ‘crackling ball of flames’.
‘All the children were wearing the same kit,’ he told The Daily Mail at the time.
‘It was like a potential horror film in front of me, because they were all going to go.
‘This material just keeps reigniting and re-burning. And it is sticky, so it melts on the skin. It doesn’t cinder. It remains hot. It was horrific to be honest.’
Matilda (right, with her father Kris) was eight when she caught fire as her outfit went up in flames due to a nearby candle and Claudia (left) has revealed it still haunts her
The TV presenter and mother-of-three, 49, described the devastating incident as life-changing: ‘I can’t remember life before it.’
Matilda has since had several operations and her surgeon called for tougher fire safety laws on fancy dress.
In Winkleman’s book, Quite, released in October last year, the Strictly star paid tribute to NHS staff who were ‘kind and clever’ in helping her young daughter.
Within a passage in the novel, she said: ‘There have been moments in my life, the most terrifying, the most confusing, the most discombobulating – that have led me to believe that the greatest people who walk the earth are nurses.
‘They are kind, they are clever, they work incredibly hard, they are there to save us, or to help us through it when saving is simply not possible.
‘They hold your hand when your child is going in for an operation, they hold your hand when the surgeon says there’s bad news, they hold your hand when the doctor says the medication isn’t working.’
The incident led to her stepping down from hosting Strictly for three weeks so she could be by Matilda’s side, and opened up about the ordeal in a BBC Watchdog episode in 2015.
Trading Standards supervisor Ian Smith advises parents to check the label of Halloween costumes and look for a UKCA or CE certification mark to ensure it has been tested and safe for children to wear
How to pick the safest Halloween costume for your child
Here are three simple tips to keep your children safe when dressing up for the scary celebrations at the end of October:
Always look at the costume label
Costumes must have UKCA or CE certification marks which say the product meets with UK or EU requirements on safety standards. It also means the product has been tested to ensure it is safe to wear.
Some costumes will have undergone additional flammability testing making them safer and this should be stated on the label.
Wear clothes under the costume
For extra protection, fire experts recommend adding a layer of clothing underneath a potentially dangerous costume could prevent severe burns. Halloween costumes are often very thin, and if on fire, this means the material can burn through within minutes.
Swap tealights for torches
Naked flames such as tea lights in pumpkins are a fire risk so one of the safest things parents can do is to swap tealights for torches or glow sticks when decorating for Halloween. This can greatly help to reduce the risk of costumes catching fire.
Source: Daily Mail UK