Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) is joining fire services across the country to warn parents of the fire risks posed to children by fancy dress costumes.
The warning comes after the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) for Bedfordshire and Luton Fire and Rescue Service, Paul Fuller, appeared on BBC’s Watchdog to show how quickly some children’s costumes burn if touched by fire.
The issue was highlighted in an interview with presenter Claudia Winkleman, whose daughter was burned last October when her Halloween fancy dress costume caught fire.
CFO Paul Fuller said: “These costumes are not covered by current children’s clothing regulations and the safety standard for them can be as little as a ‘keep away from fire’ label. This is not good enough and is putting children’s lives at risk.
“At the moment fancy dress costumes are not necessarily fire proofed or fire retardant. They are classified as toys, not clothes. Fire safety for toys is based on the ability of children to drop a burning teddy bear or doll or to run away from a burning play tent or wigwam. It often amounts to no more than having a ‘keep away from fire’ label on the package but you can’t drop a burning costume or run away from it.
“We are not asking for new legislation. We want fancy dress costumes to be included in same safety standards as children’s nightclothes. It is a simple classification change from toys to clothes and will help protect our children from this preventable risk. We also want manufacturers to understand the risk and bring their costumes up to the standard of children’s nightclothes.
“This is not a matter of cost, more expensive costumes are not necessarily safer. Parents should be aware that costumes do not meet the same safety standards as clothes.”
Councillor Dave Ledger, Deputy Leader of Northumberland County Council and Policy Board Member for NFRS said: “We need to help get the message out there to residents about the potential danger of these items.
“Parents need to realise that these clothes could pose a risk and if their children are going to wear them they need to ensure that there are no naked flames around and they take extra care especially if there are candles lit. While we are several months away from Halloween it’s still worth heeding this advice now.
“We are also supporting calls for costumes to be covered by the current children’s clothing regulations, rather than as toys, as we believe that this would greatly improve the safety of children.”