Wear ‘fire-safer’ costumes for a fun Halloween

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Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service is reminding parents and anyone looking after children to keep their youngsters safe on Halloween by wearing ‘fire-safer’ costumes and avoiding candles and naked flames.

Halloween, on 31 October, is always a busy evening for fire services, and that’s no different in Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

In the last ten years, between 01 Jan 2012 and 31 Dec 2021, 714 incidents occurred in the HWFRS area over the Halloween period (28-31 October), 177 of which were fire incidents.

Although fortunately 333 call-outs were ‘false alarms’, these still involved fire crews deploying when they might have been needed more urgently somewhere else.

The three most called-on fire stations were Worcester, Hereford and Redditch, traditionally among the busiest stations for Halloween in the region.

The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) supports the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) more stringent flammability tests and labelling for children’s costumes which were introduced in 2017, and are supported by many reputable UK high street retailers and costume manufacturers.

Emma Roberts, HWFRS Head of Prevention, said:

“Any shop-bought costume should include a label showing that it meets the standard EN71-2 for flammability resistance requirements for toys.

“Candles should only be used if they are static and out of reach of children – certainly not at ground level. But preferably don’t use candles with naked flames at all – swap them instead for LED lights.

“We want this Halloween to be a fun evening for people of all ages. Suitable costumes and avoiding candles and flame torches will help ensure this.”

Follow these tips for a safe Halloween:

  • only buy fancy dress costumes from a reputable retailer – cheap or imported costumes may not meet UK safety standards and at worst may carry fake safety labelling.
  • look for labels which indicate the costume has undergone the BRC’s additional tests. It should say: ‘Keep away from candles and lit flames’ or similar wording, as well as: ‘This garment has undergone additional safety testing for flammability’, which is reassurance the costume is safer than legally required under EN71-2.
  • always check the label – clothing will always burn if in contact with naked flames, but some much faster than others.
  • keep other flammable items out children’s reach and make sure they know what to do if something catches alight.
  • layer up – wear clothes under fancy dress to give a layer of protection between the costume and your skin which can help protect in the event of a fire incident.

‘Stop, Drop and Roll’

Make sure your children know what to do if their clothes catch fire: ensure they understand to STOP and not to try and run; DROP and cover face with hands; and ROLL a few times to put out the flames.

Check out ROSPA and BRC websites for wealth of Halloween costume safety guidance

See the ROSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) and BRC (British Retail Consortium) websites for a wealth of helpful information and guidance to guard against Halloween costumes catching alight, and downloadable posters.

www.rospa.com/home-safety/Advice/Product/halloween-costumes and https://brc.org.uk/news/buying/the-flammability-safety-of-children-s-disguise-costume-code-of-practice/