Fire hazards around children’s costumes are being stressed to parents by the council’s trading standards team as the autumn period of Hallowe’en, Guy Fawkes’ Night and likely exposure to naked flames takes hold.
The need to ensure that seasonal costumes meet all required safety standards is being driven home by officers as the headline-grabbing story of TV personality Claudia Winkleman’s daughter marks its first anniversary.
It was while celebrating Hallowe’en last year, that the eight-year-old’s fancy dress costume was engulfed in flames, leaving the little girl with severe burns requiring surgery. It is thought that her witch’s costume brushed against a candle.
Now, parents, guardians and friends buying a costume for a little one to wear, are being urged for extra vigilance and to take just a few seconds to check that labels indicate that the garment has been manufactured to the required European safety standards.
Over the past two years, Rapex, the European rapid alert system designed to prevent or restrict the market for unsafe products, has logged more than 30 notifications for unsafe children’s fancy dress costumes and accessories. Such notifications often result in a recall or withdrawal from the market.
The most common hazards involve the flammability of clothing, usually due to the chemical composition of the fabrics used. Safety standard EN71 sets out flammability requirements for children’s toys and fancy dress costumes, as well as mechanical and physical properties, such as small parts and strangulation hazards, to minimise the risk of children being harmed.
Toys, including fancy dress costumes, must comply with the Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011. Supplying toys that are subject to the regulations but do not meet their requirements could result in penalties of a fine of up to £5,000 or a prison sentence, or both.
“While the celebrations around Hallowe’en, Bonfire Night and Christmas are times of great fun and excitement, they can also, sadly, put children at risk.
“Most kids love dressing up, but parents should take the greatest care to make sure their children don’t come into close proximity of naked flames or other potentially dangerous heat sources, especially if they’re in fancy dress costumes.
“Clothing of any kind always carries a risk around fire, so I’d urge parents to keep their young ones well away from candles, fireworks and open fires, even if their costumes meet the highest safety standards.”
It is advised to check garments’ and face masks’ labelling to ensure they have been properly fire retarded in accordance with EN71-2. Products should be accompanied by adequate safety and warning notices such as “Keep away from fire”, and the label or packaging should contain the manufacturer’s name and address or phone number, and a registered trademark.