As Halloween and bonfire night approach, County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service is reminding parents to protect their children from flammable fancy dress costumes.
The issue became much discussed following an accident in 2014 when presenter Claudia Winkleman’s daughter was burned when her Halloween fancy dress costume accidentally caught fire.
Since then, fire services across the country have shown just how quickly some of the fancy dress costumes can catch fire.
Tests have shown that those wearing costumes can be engulfed in flames in as little as nine seconds
County Durham and Darlington’s Chief fire officer, Stuart Errington, said: “Such costumes are currently classed as toys and are not covered by children’s clothing regulations; the safety standard for them can be as little as a ‘keep away from fire’ label.
“Like other fire services across the country we have been and will continue to back calls for costumes to be covered by children’s clothing regulations but until this happens we would advise people to check the labels carefully.”
CDDFRS has issued the following advice:
• Check the labels on any fancy dress outfits you buy and see what fire resistance they offer
If in doubt check with the customer services department or the store manager
• Do not let your child go near any ignition sources – sparklers can burn at up to 2,000 degrees Celsius
• Replace candles in pumpkins with battery powered candles – these are cheap, they do not blow out and they are much safer
• Teach your child to STOP, DROP and ROLL in the event that their clothing does catch fire
In an emergency cool any burns with large amounts of water and get urgent medical assistance.
CFO Errington added: “The design of costumes, often made with flowing robes or capes, means they can easily catch fire from a candle or flame and very quickly engulf a child in flames.
“Burn injuries are difficult to treat and once a child’s skin has been burned it does not regain its flexibility and grow as the child does. This means a young burns survivor may have to endure years of painful surgery as they grow and develop.
“The popularity of Halloween fancy dress costumes for children has grown enormously in recent years and we issue this advice to warn people so that they and their families can enjoy themselves while staying safe.
“Cutting the risk of flames catching a costume in the first place is also an important safety measure.
“We would urge people not to use naked flames while their children are dressing up for Halloween or bonfire night.
“This would include lighting candles in the home and use of candles and tea lights in pumpkins. LED candles, displaying the correct kite mark, are a safe alternative; they can look very realistic and are an inexpensive option.”