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Safety fears after kids' Halloween costumes catch fire in seconds

Children could be at risk after safety tests on kids' Halloween outfits found they all caught fire within seconds.

Parenting group Channel Mum conducted tests on trick-or-treat costumes from seven leading retailers.

All the outfits passed a 'brush test' past a candle, but when they were held above an open flame all went up within six seconds.

One little girl's witch costume from Tesco caught fire immediately.

Claudia Winkleman's daughter was severely burned after her Halloween outfit caught fire last year. Credit: PA

TV presenter Claudia Winkleman's daughter Matilda was severely burned after brushing past a tea light in a Halloween costume last year.

It is important to note retailers are not doing anything illegal in selling these Halloween costumes.

The government has ordered Trading Standards to carry out spot checks on costumes to see if they meet safety standards.

But fancy dress outfits are classed as toys to be played with rather than worn - so only have to be tested for lower flammability than say pyjamas or nightwear.

The Channel Mum investigation also found:

25%
Of parents wrongly think regulations have been tightened up
52%
Of parents will swap tealights for LED lights this year
21
Children were admitted to hospital as a result of costumes igniting or melting
1 in 7
Parents know a child who has been burned while wearing a Halloween costume
Many parents say they will use LED lights instead of tea lights this year. Credit: Channel Mum

Some stores promised they've tightened up Halloween outfit safety, but our video shows the flames ripping through children’s costumes in seconds.

We need stringent safety regulations and far clearer labelling so parents know if there could be a potential problem with an outfit.

Let's hope no more children are injured this Halloween before tougher action is taken.

– Channel Mum founder Siobhan Freegard

Trading Standards said they are currently carrying out an investigation into the safety of Halloween outfits and will publish a report in the autumn.

It is unacceptable for retailers to sell any product that does not meet adequate safety standards, especially where children are concerned.

Trading standards services take product safety extremely seriously but manufacturers and wholesalers need to take responsibility too, in order to prevent substandard products from entering the marketplace.

Meanwhile, the evidence gathered by the local trading standards services who are at the frontline of this investigation will help establish whether the current flammability standards and classifications are fit for purpose."

– Leon Livermore, chief executive at the Chartered Trading Standards Institute

ITV News has contacted all of the retailers whose products were tested in the Channel Mum video.

An Asda spokesperson said: "We recognise that children’s dress-up costumes are no longer occasional wear, so we’ve introduced more rigorous testing to the same standards as nightwear."

Sainsbury's said: "We are proud to confirm that all children’s dress-up outfits sold in our stores and online from Halloween 2015 meet both European Toy (EN71), and British nightwear flammability (BS5722 test 3) safety standard - the toughest standard that currently exists."

While M&S replied: "We are confident that all our childrenswear meets all the relevant safety regulations and the very high safety standards we set ourselves. Every dress up item is subjected to independent flammability tests under strict laboratory conditions to make sure this is the case."

As responsible retailers we’re committed to ensuring that the testing for all the products we sell is robust and appropriate and that safety standards are constantly under review to ensure they are sufficiently rigorous.

Retailers already go a step further than what is required in testing children’s costumes according to more stringent nightwear flammability standards and have worked with British Standards to have the existing toy flammability standard (EN 71-2) reviewed. In addition, we are developing new codes of practice for testing on flammability safety and also safety labelling.

– Spokesperson for British Retail Consortium (BRC)

Safety is really important to us and that’s why we are running an in-store and online campaign to educate and encourage parents and children about playing safely at Halloween. We are also encouraging our customers to choose safer products such as electronic candles.

In terms of testing, we go above and beyond the current regulations, (EN71), as all of our children's dress up products (including our Halloween range) pass additional, tougher Flammability Testing (BS5722).

– David Goodwin, product safety testing for Matalan

We’ve worked hard to ensure that all of our Halloween costumes pass British Nightwear Standards.

The safety of our customers is really important to us and we’d always recommend that costumes are not worn in the proximity to naked flames which is why we’re championing our LED tea lights as we want our customers to have a safe and enjoyable Halloween.

– Spokesperson for Wilko

There's nothing more important to us than the safety of the products we sell and we will always act when we hear customers are concerned. We’ve re-tested all of our fancy dress costumes, including the F&F devil costume, and can confirm they all meet both the legally required toy flammability standard and the tougher children’s nightwear test.

We won’t be selling costumes that do not meet this stricter regulation.

– Tesco spokesperson

The safety and well-being of consumers is our top priority. To that end, Party Delights' policy is to only sell children’s costumes from suppliers that have been tested by independent, third party laboratories to ensure that the costumes are in complete compliance with all applicable Government safety regulations and standards.

– Party Delights spokesperson