Top tips for choosing safe Halloween costumes for your kids

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS) is asking families to dress their loved ones safely and to understand the fire safety risks involved on Halloween.

Many Halloween and fancy dress costumes are classed as toys, meaning they can ignite quicker and burn faster – posing a significant risk to those wearing them.

It is crucial that parents and caregivers take particular care with their loved ones wearing costumes around heat sources and naked flames, such as candles, fires, lighters and matches.

MFRS Arson Manager Suzanne Hazza said, “We want everyone in Merseyside to enjoy Halloween as safely as possible. We understand this is an exciting night for many families and we’re asking parents to take extra care when choosing costumes and dressing their children.

“Ensuring the costume has been tested for fire safety and adding a layer of clothing underneath costumes can make a huge difference.”

With Halloween parties and trick-or-treating common with families across Merseyside, Hazza also highlighted the importance of taking care with Halloween pumpkins and decorations.

She added, “As we get closer to Halloween, there are plenty of ways to have fun with the family without compromising on safety. Simple actions such as swapping ordinary candles for LED battery-operated ones or knowing where the nearest exit is at a Halloween party means you can stay safe while enjoying Halloween”.

Top tips for a safe Halloween:

• Check clothing labels to see if they have been tested for fire safety, look for a CE mark
• Add an extra layer of clothing underneath costumes to protect the skin in the event of a fire incident
• Teach children to STOP, DROP and ROLL in the event their clothing does catch fire
• Take extra care when lighting Halloween pumpkins and ensure that no loose clothing is near them at any time (particularly when they are being moved)
• Consider using LED battery-operated candles, these are safer and can be cheaper
• Make sure Halloween decorations are placed well away from naked flames or heat sources, and make sure decorations don’t block any escape routes
• Children and pets should never be left alone with candles or any heat sources
• Ensure all candles are extinguished before going to bed
• Ensure your home has at least one working smoke alarm on every level. Consider fitting additional alarms in other rooms where there are electrical appliances or near sleeping areas

When purchasing a costume, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) advises:

Look for the appropriate safety marks

In England, Scotland, and Wales, only buy costumes or toys which carry UKCA or CE marks. In the case of Northern Ireland look for the UKNI symbol along with the UKCA or CE mark.

All parts of a Halloween costume, including wigs and face masks, should be flame-retardant in accordance with EN71 part 2 – the safety standard for flammability of toys. 

Additionally, items sold in the UK by a member of the British Retail Consortium (BRC) are likely to have been made to a higher standard of fire safety and labelled with the words ‘This garment has undergone additional safety testing for flammability.’

Beware when purchasing from unknown brands

Unknown brands or brands you can only find online may not meet the strict regulations around costume and toy safety. This could put you or your child at greater fire risk, or at risk from dangerous chemicals. Therefore, we always advise you only purchase products from known brands.

Keep away from naked flames

As with all clothing, Halloween and fancy-dress outfits should always be kept away from fire, lit candles and all other naked flames.  RoSPA advises not to have lit candles as part of Halloween celebrations, and consideration can be given to using battery-operated candles instead of real ones.

Be safe, be seen

Most Halloween costumes are dark, which can pose a risk to children when out and enjoying the festivities. If you can, provide them with a torch and add something reflective to their outfit so they can be seen by vehicles. For maximum safety, children should always be accompanied by an adult.

Phil Le Shirley, Public Safety Advisor at RoSPA, said, “Halloween can be an exciting time for children, and we want to ensure everyone can enjoy the time safely and without any accidents.

“That’s why when it comes to dressing up, we recommend checking a Halloween costume or toy for the appropriate safety marks such as a UKCA or CE mark in England, Scotland and Wales or the UKNI symbol with the UKCA or CE mark in Northern Ireland.

“We also recognise that the darker nights reduce visibility, so advise children out trick or treating carry a torch and piece of reflective clothing to ensure they remain seen and stay safe – and always keep away from naked flames, especially when visiting other people’s homes.”

For fire safety advice, or if you do not have working smoke alarms in your property, call MFRS on 0800 731 5958. For more tips on staying safe this Halloween & Bonfire, visit Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service’s Facebook (@MerseyFire), Twitter (@MerseyFire), Instagram (@Mersey_Fire) and YouTube (@MerseyFire)

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