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The witch costume worn by Claudia Winkleman’s daughter that caught alight

The spookiest night of the year is approaching but how do you know that your child’s Halloween costume is safe?

With fireworks, candles, and sparklers comes the potential for serious accidents. Costumes have been under the spotlight in recent years after causing serious burns to children when they accidentally caught alight.

Strictly Come Dancing’s Claudia Winkleman was devastated when her eight-year-old daughter’s witch costume “went up like a birthday candle” after it was set alight by a flame in 2014.

Claudia Winkleman joined calls for better safety standards for costumes after her daughter suffered burns

The youngster suffered serious burns and Claudia went on to issue warnings over the safety of Halloween outfits.

In 2017, UK fire chiefs warned there was still the potential for disaster because there had been no improvements to safety legislation over the outfits.

Fancy dress costumes are still classified as toys, which means they are not subject to the same stringent rules as children’s clothing.

In 2015, the government promised a fire prevention strategy involving spot checks by trading standards officers as thousands more children’s outfits and accessories, some aimed at babies and toddlers, went on sale online and in supermarkets in time for Halloween.

Although no new safety laws have been passed, retailers are making efforts to reassure parents the outfit they are buying is as safe as possible.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has introduced a voluntary code of practice to set safer standards than those required by law.

The BRC testing was developed around how fast the fabric burns.

But parents still need to remember that, while costumes that have passed the more rigorous tests will have a slower burn rate, all clothing is still flammable.

Here are a few tips on picking out your child’s Halloween costume and enjoying a safer Halloween:

  • Halloween costumes are classed as toys rather than clothing so check it has the CE safety marking.
  • All costumes being sold on the UK market should meet the European EN 71 safety regulations that applies to all toys.
  • To spot the logo is genuine look at the middle line of the E – it should be shorter than the other parts.
  • Check the packaging and labels contain the manufacturer’s name or registered trademark and that there are safety instructions.
  • Look for the ‘flame-resistant’ label.
  • Make sure you purchase items from a reputable shop.
  • Beware of anything on it which could easily trail and catch alight such as tassels and capes.
  • Buy costumes made of one type of material rather than layers.
  • Costumes made of cotton and cotton/ polyester blends can be the most flammable.
  • Polyester and nylon are flame-resistant materials – but they can still melt near fire which can cause horrendous burns to the skin.
  • Wear clothes under the costume such as jeans and a woollen jumper to give some protection to the skin if a costume were to catch fire.
  • Children should know how to “stop, drop and roll” if their clothing does catch fire.
  • Be careful if you are buying online and always read reviews.
  • You can check the Trading Standards website for product recalls of Halloween outfits.
  • Switch to battery-operated LED candles for added safety.
  • If you do use real candles you should keep them away from any items which could catch fire, place them on a heat resistant surface like a ceramic plate and never leave a candle unattended.

Follow these tips and stay safe this Halloween so that your family enjoys the very best time on this spooky holiday!

Halloween fancy dress: how to buy safe costumes for your kids