Everyone loves dressing up at Halloween, children most of all. But sadly it can be dangerous for some children, as there have been a number of well-documented accidents where children’s Halloween costumes were set alight by accident.
Due to a quirk in EU safety regulations children’s costumes are classed as toys, rather than clothing, and carry a “CE” mark to prove they are safe.
But this means they are not subject to the strict flammability standards that regular nightwear is.
It means that costumes, including those bought for children for Halloween, can ignite far more quickly.
The new voluntary measures are even tougher than the current standards that exist.
The beefed up rules now guarantee costumes will have a maximum burn rate of 10mm per minute, rather than the previous 30mm per minute standard.
Shops have promised to provide additional warnings for customers.
Halloween costume safety tips: 10 things you should know when buying your child’s costume
1. Use flame-resistant materials
Polyester and nylon are both flame-resistant materials, for example. When picking out your child’s costume always look for the label “flame-resistant” and make sure there is a visible CE mark.
2. Pick a costume that’s made out of ONE material
Costumes that are made of one single type of material will often catch fire more slowly than those that are made out of lots of different materials. If a costume is made of a variety of different fabrics, they can all react to a flame in a different way and, in some cases, can fuel the fire even faster.
3. Wear clothes UNDER the costume
Not only because it can be quite chilly when you’re trick or treating but also because it’s safer.
4. Ditch the capes
Capes are very common on Halloween costumes, but – as proven by Madonna – they can pose a tripping hazard even to adults. More worryingly, however, is the fact that they pose a strangulation risk.
5. Read the label on face paints
If you are buying face paints which are marketed at children, then they should be FDA approved. Always look for a CE mark and always check the packaging displays clear ingredients in English.
And remember that the words ‘non-toxic’ doesn’t always mean it will be safe for your child’s skin. Do an allergy test on a small patch of skin before using on your little one’s sensitive face.
No matter how tired they are following a night of fun, make sure you remove any costume makeup before bedroom to prevent possible skin irritation.
6. Keep an eye on accessories and props
Swords, knives, and other costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible. If you think your child would be hurt if they fell on their accessory, be it a wand or a sword, then do not give them it.
Again, look for a visible CE mark when purchasing.
7. Be careful with masks
You want to make sure that your child’s mask fits snugly (so that it’s comfortable and doesn’t slip), that the eye holes are big enough to see out of, and that they can breathe comfortably while wearing it.
Look for a visible CE mark before purchasing – and make sure your child doesn’t wear the mask when they are walking near busy roads.
8. Remember to stay visible
Choose bright and light coloured costumes and clothing wherever possible. If they are heading out trick-or-treating, give them a glow stick to carry, and buy reflective tape and attach it to your child’s costume. This will ensure that motorists can see your child – and that you can keep an eye on them!
9. Don’t forget the shoes!
Your little princess doesn’t need to wear high heels; leave them at home and pop her in sturdy footwear that she won’t trip in.
And, on the note, remember that many shoes that come with costumes are NOT meant for outdoor use; make sure your child is wearing shoes that fit properly and have proper grip to them, so that they don’t slip and fall. Also so they can comfortably survive the night walking around in their shoes.
10. And of course, make sure it fits
Do not purchase costumes that are flimsy, billowing, too big, or that drag on the ground; not only will this be a tripping hazard, but it could also get caught up in Halloween candles.
REMEMBER: The main thing to do is use your own common sense and rust your parental instincts. If it doesn’t feel safe or comfortable, then it probably isn’t; go with your gut, follow our advice, and keep things safe this Halloween.
Stop, drop, and roll
If the worst does happen, make sure that children know the ‘stop, drop and roll’ drill.
Make Halloween scary for the right reasons! Have a bewitching night and a very happy, SAFE Halloween.