Take care with fancy dress this Hallowe’en & Bonfire night

People gearing up to celebrating Hallowe’en are being urged by the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) to take extra precautions to avoid injury.

The warning about the dangers of children’s fancy dress clothing comes just days before Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night.

We are urging parents to make sure they are not using candles when youngsters are wearing these costumes, as tests have shown they can be engulfed in flames in as little as nine seconds. Currently they are classed as toys, meaning they are less fire resistant than everyday clothing.

Approximately 1,000 accidental fires in the home are started by candles or tea lights every year, which could lead to serious injury or death.

CFOA do not recommend burning candles when young children are present, and encourage people to use LED candles, which display the correct kite mark. However if people are going to burn candles, it is essential insulated holders are used, to reduce the likelihood of accident or injury.

Lewis Ramsay, CFOA Director of Prevention, Protection and Road Safety, said: “With Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night just days away, I would urge people to take additional care.

“Fancy dress clothing has surged in popularity but can be highly flammable and cause devastating injuries. We want people to enjoy themselves so are encouraging people to ensure there are no naked flames while their children are enjoying dressing up for Hallowe’en, while discouraging youngsters from wearing fancy dress clothing on Bonfire Night while bonfires and fireworks are alight.”

Following a campaign by CFOA calling on the government to make a change to legislation, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is currently carrying out an investigation and will carry out spot checks on retailers selling fancy dress costumes and carry out flammability testing to assess whether they are safe for sale.

CFOA would like to see:

  • Reclassify children’s dressing up outfits as clothes and not as toys
  • Raise awareness of the dangers of dressing up clothes, especially around specific events such as Halloween and bonfire night
  • Work with suppliers and manufacturers in how the materials are constructed. For instance, a dress is more likely than trousers to come into contact with a naked flame, therefore needs increased fire resistance
  • Better labelling of fancy dress clothing

Jane Eason, Chief Fire Officers Association October 28, 2015

Safety advice

  • Lighted candles or fireworks can ignite flammable costumes and hair.
  • Use LED candles, which display the correct kite mark.
  • Plastic capes and bin liners, often used as costumes, are also fire risks.
  • Homemade lanterns made from hollowed pumpkins and candles are extremely hazardous. If the candle tips over it could set light to materials such as costumes, curtains, clothes and furniture and start a serious fire.
  • Lanterns should never be made from plastic bottles or other containers. This would be very dangerous and if handled carelessly could result in burns and also cause a fire.
  • Candles in glass jars may be safer but always use an insulated holder
  • Some holders may not be fire resistant and can reignite
  • Drafts from open windows can knock over candles or bend the flame to ignite decorations, curtain or carpets
  • Never use burning candles in the home when anyone is under the influence of alcohol
  • Never leave burning candles unattended or leave them burning while asleep
  • Never move a burning candle or tea light
  • Always use a cable snuffer or metal spoon to safely extinguish a burning candle

Chief Fire Officers Association and Kent Fire and Rescue


Listen to CFOA Past President Peter Dartford discuss the safety of Children’s Fancy Dress on BBC Radio here (67mins), or read more about the investigation into Children’s Fancy Dress here.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *