How to save your family from a Halloween fire nightmare like Claudia’s

How to save your family from a Halloween fire nightmare like Claudia’s

Last year Claudia Winkleman’s daughter was badly burned when her Halloween fancy dress costume caught fire. Fire and Safety Centre suggests how you can keep your own family safe by taking one simple precaution, making sure those dressing up outfits don’t have a trick up their sleeves…

This Halloween will be considerably less frightening for families throughout the UK thanks to TV personality Claudia Winkleman.

She has successfully campaigned for improved safety standards for Halloween dressing–up costumes worn by children after the one her daughter Matilda wore last year caused severe burns when she was engulfed in flames when a candle flame touched the fabric.

She believes it was a gap in the legislation that caused the problem, allowing dressing up clothes to be classified in the same way, from a fire safety point of view, as toys. But as Claudia pointed out, there was a massive difference; toys can be dropped, but burning clothes cannot; illustrated graphically when the fabric of a pair of tights melted on to her daughter’s skin.

Claudia told the BBC’s Watchdog consumer programme:

“I would like parents on Halloween just to think about what they’re going to put their kids in, because I didn’t, and it cost us.”

“It’s not a toy, because you wear it next to bare skin. If she’d been holding a broomstick, which is a toy, we could have chucked that, but we couldn’t put her out fast enough.”


Government’s fire safety response

Only last month Business Secretary Sajid Javid ordered a nationwide investigation into the safety of fancy dress costumes, which means Trading Standards officials will do spot checks nationwide. At the same time the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is working with the British Standards Institute to decide if European standards need to be toughened up. Results of Trading Standards investigations will help inform that decision.

Mr Javid said:

“My immediate concern as a father and a minister is that children wearing these fancy dress costumes are safe. It is unacceptable for any costumes to be sold that do not comply with safety standards. That’s why I’ve granted funding to Trading Standards to carry out spot checks as part of a nationwide investigation. Parents should feel confident that any fancy dress they buy meets required standards.”

National Burn Awareness Day

The Government is also supporting the second annual National Burn Awareness Day, taking place on October 21st and organised by the Children’s Burns Trust, supported by the Fire Kills campaign and the Chief Fire Officers Association.

Best advice: Be your own fire safety officer

The best way for your family to avoid the distress caused by a fire safety accident like the Winklemans is to be your own fire safety officer. No matter how much peer pressure is being put on you by excited youngsters, check the labels on shop-bought fancy dress clothes with the utmost care to make sure they are made of fame resistant material. Getting technical, this means it must comply with both BS EN 14878, a European standards, the Nightwear (safety) Regulations 1985, which is a UK standard, and British Standard 5722. If it meets the latter standard, it will say so on the label, examples of which are shown on page 5 of the document here.

Finally, if you’re in any doubt, don’t buy it. Look out for any naked flames, and stay safe this Halloween. General advice on fire safety can be found on our fire safety advice pages.


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