Parents urged to buy their children’s Halloween costumes from responsible retailers

20/10/2017

Parents are being urged to ensure they are shopping with responsible retailers in the run-up to Halloween.

The potential danger of children’s Halloween costumes has been in the spotlight following the horror suffered by Claudia Winkleman and her daughter Matilda in 2014, when the little girl’s costume caught fire after it came into contact with a naked flame.

RoSPA has been working with the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and its members to develop a new testing standard for the flammability of children’s dress-up costumes, which goes beyond the current legal level.

Following testing in UK laboratories, the new stringent, voluntary standard means costumes should have a burn rate of 10mm per minute – 300 per cent slower than the current 30mm per minute standard.

Companies that have tested their costumes to this new standard will be allowed to print “This garment has undergone additional safety testing for flammability” on their labelling. They are also being asked to use more prominent fire safety labelling on packaging and on sew-in labels.

RoSPA recommends that, as with all clothing, Halloween costumes are kept away from naked flames, and that children are supervised by an adult when trick or treating. For additional safety, consider using battery-powered candles.

Sheila Merrill, RoSPA’s public health adviser, said: “Accidents involving children’s Halloween costumes can happen very quickly – they only need to come briefly into contact with a candle or other naked flame for disaster to strike.

“The potentially-horrific injuries can leave lifelong scars, and not just physical ones. The distress felt by a child and their family and friends in an incident like this is immeasurable.

“I’d urge parents to shop with well-known retailers, and double-check all the labelling to ensure that costumes have passed the proper flammability tests.”

David Bolton, head of product safety at the BRC, said: “We have led the way in developing guidance and tools to help all companies, not just our members, test products to a standard above current regulations to give their customers the reassurances they rightly demand. First introduced in 2016, we continue to review and refine it to ensure it is robust and add to a company’s own due diligence process. We have also been working with BSI to encourage Europe to adopt our standard.

“While the BRC Code of Practice is a valuable tool for all companies, we are still recommending that the UK Government and EU authorities revisit the legislation to ensure all products on the market are effectively regulated to reflect the hazards presented by today’s style of costumes, including the fabrics and finishes used.”

For more Halloween safety information, see www.rospa.com/halloween.

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