Halloween costume fire safety warning

As Halloween approaches, Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire & Rescue Service and Trading Standards team is urging people to be extra cautious when buying children’s fancy dress costumes to reduce fire risks caused by naked flames.

Strictly Come Dancing co-host Claudia Winkleman launched a campaign on BBC 1's Watchdog programme after her daughter was injured in 2014 when her Halloween costume brushed against a pumpkin lamp and went up in flames. The programme highlighted that children's fancy dress costumes are classed as toys rather than clothes, meaning they are subject to less rigorous safety tests than clothing. Even those that comply with toy safety regulations can still catch fire but should burn at a rate that will allow a child to get out before a serious injury occurs.

Check for the 'CE' mark

Oxfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards team and Oxfordshire Fire & Rescue are therefore advising people to check that any Halloween costumes they buy comply with fire safety regulations by checking the garment’s label has a ‘CE’ mark before purchasing. They are also encouraging people to consider alternatives to candles in pumpkins such as LED lights to avoid costumes coming into contact with a naked flame.

Trading Standards Operation Manager at Oxfordshire County Council, Jody Kerman said: “We don’t want to stop people enjoying Halloween, but we do want them to celebrate safely and be aware of ways to reduce the fire risks. Before buying a children's fancy dress costume, check that it includes the CE mark.

“We would also urge people to swap naked flame candles for battery powered LED equivalents in pumpkin lanterns and other decorations, to reduce the risk that costumes could accidentally catch fire which could result in burns, which can last a lifetime.”

The Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service produced this film to highlight the dangers of Halloween costumes being near a naked flame.

Councillor Rodney Rose, Oxfordshire County Council's cabinet member for Fire & Rescue and Trading Standards, said: "We want everyone to have a happy Halloween but we also need to remember the safety hazards that the increased use of candles around this season can cause. Protecting children is vitally important so I urge everyone to check costumes for the CE label before buying them and avoid using real candles by using LED candles instead.”

What to do if a costume goes on fire

Quick and calm action could help to save a child’s life if their costume catches fire like the one Claudia Winkleman’s daughter was wearing at a party in 2014. The mantra to remember from Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service is STOP, DROP and ROLL…

  • If on fire, STOP the child from moving as moving around creates air and increases the fire;

  • Heat rises so DROP the child to the floor and lay down flat to prevent flames from reaching their face;

  • Next, ROLL the child over and over and back and forth until the flames are out.

Cool any burns with large amounts of water and get urgent medical assistance.

This advice is part of 365alive, Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service’s vision to work every day to save and improve the lives of people across Oxfordshire. For more information, visit www.365alive.co.uk