Children Halloween Costume Warning

31 October 2016, 10:17 | Updated: 31 October 2016, 10:35

Warning to parents across the Thames Valley as some Halloween costumes are highly flammable.

Fire and Rescue services across the Thames Valley are warning parents about some highly flammable Halloween costumes.

Some of the costumes don't have the same safety criteria as regular clothes because they're classed as toys.

Oxfordshire County Council's Fire & Rescue Service, Trading Standards and Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service have released warnings about the risk of fire.

Oxfordshire County Council Statement:  

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.

Claudia Winkleman launched a campaign 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. 

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.”

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

Berkshire Fire and Rescue Statement: 

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) has issued important fire safety advice to help Berkshire residents stay safe when celebrating with their family and friends this Autumn. Both children and adults are injured every year in accidents involving candles or fireworks, and each year, over half of all firework injuries are suffered by children. 

Over the past five years over 350 pre-school children, some only a year old, were treated in hospital for fireworks injuries.

RBFRS urges residents to be mindful of their surroundings by considering their neighbours when planning their celebrations. Bonfires should be kept under control and you should keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby in case of emergencies. The advice below covers the use of lanterns and candles, bonfire safety, dressing in costumes and the safe use and disposal of fireworks. Whether you’re celebrating Diwali, dressing up for Halloween or planning on enjoying fireworks for Bonfire night, the advice below will help you look after yourself, your loved ones and your property: Costumes 

Make sure that when purchasing or using costumes and masks that they are labelled as flame-resistant. 

Don't use flammable materials to make home-made costumes. 

Keep children away from naked flames at all times. 

If your clothing catches fire remember to stop, drop and roll. Fireworks 

Only buy fireworks marked BS 7114 or with a CE mark - this shows that the firework meets British or European safety standards (a reputable shop will know this). 

Don’t drink alcohol if setting off fireworks. 

Keep fireworks in a suitable box. 27/10/16 No: 77/RBFRS PRESS RELEASE PRESS RELEASE 27/10/16 No: 77/RBFRS 0 

Please be mindful of your surroundings: consider your neighbours when planning a fireworks party: ensure you light fireworks at a safe distance from spectators and property and where possible notify neighbours of your intention to hold a display. 

Consumer fireworks are category 2 fireworks which have a minimum spectator distance of either 5 metres or 8 metres depending on the type of classificationii .

Light at arm's length, using a taper and stand well back. 

Never go near a firework that has been lit. Even if it hasn’t gone off, it could still explode. 

Always supervise children around fireworks and never give sparklers to a child under five. Light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves.

Keep pets indoors. 

Handle fireworks with care - never put fireworks in your pocket or throw them and never throw fireworks into a fire even after use.

Once the bonfire has died down, spray the embers with water to stop it reigniting. 

To dispose of them, put fully spent fireworks (but not misfired or partly spent fireworks) in refuse receptacles. 

Never dispose of them by burying. Bonfires 

Build bonfires well away from buildings, fences, trees and garden structures.

Never burn aerosols, tyres, canisters or anything containing foam or paint – many produce toxic fumes and some containers may explode causing injury.

Don’t use petrol or paraffin to get the fire going as it could quickly get out of control. 

Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby in case of emergencies. 

Never leave a bonfire unattended and keep children and pets away from it. Lanterns and candles 

Think carefully about the fire risks – particularly the possibility of candles falling over - if making homemade lanterns. Place them securely in a purpose built candle holder away from draughts. Flickering LED candles are safer than real candles.

Never allow small children to carry lanterns lit by naked flames. The handle could become hot or the child could slip. 

Lanterns should never be made from plastic bottles or other plastic containers. 

Floating lanterns are a fire hazard but also pose a risk to livestock, agriculture, camping activities, thatched properties and hazardous material sites. 

Ensure that the candles are extinguished completely at night or before you go out. PRESS RELEASE 27/10/16 No: 77/RBFRS 0 Iain Harrison, Group Manager for Prevention at RBFRS said: 

“When celebrating this Autumn it’s important to remember that fireworks, lanterns, candles and sparklers all have the potential to cause harm.

“The danger is not just to yourself but to others around you – your family, friends and neighbours may be affected if you behave irresponsibly. Please follow the advice we’ve issued to ensure you celebrate safely.”