Warning as some Halloween-themed products fail to meet safety standards 'putting lives at risk'

  • ITV News Meridian's Nicki Woodcock went behind the scenes at Hampshire Scientific Service's lab to see product testing taking place

Trading Standards officers in Hampshire have found that some Halloween-themed products are falling below the required safety standards which could put lives at risk.

Items including costumes, wigs and fake teeth have all failed to meet the required safety standards.

A wide range of products are rigorously tested every day by the team at Hampshire Scientific Service in Southsea.

The stock is either confiscated as it enters the country, at ports including Southampton and Portsmouth, is seized by Trading Standards officers from stores or is submitted for testing by a range of organisations.

The team at Hampshire Scientific Service rigorously test products for safety. Credit: ITV News Meridian

It has prompted warnings for parents to carry out some simple checks when buying certain products this Halloween and Bonfire Night.

Councillor Russell Oppenheimer, Hampshire County Council, said: "With Halloween just around the corner, our Trading Standards team has issued a set of safety tips that reminds everyone of how to avoid a nasty trick during their seasonal celebrations.

"Taking a few cautionary steps helps to avoid an injury or even a life-threatening incident, especially involving items and clothing that are being enjoyed by children, checking for safety labelling on spooky costumes, and ensuring small button battery compartments are secure, is especially important."

Consumers are being advised to check Halloween costumes have the UKCA or CE mark. Credit: ITV News

Top tips to stay safe this Halloween and Bonfire Night:

  • Check the labels of costumes and other toys including face paints, wigs or masks. Products must have a UKCA or CE mark which means the product complies with the required safety standards. Avoid buying fake items.

  • Take extra care if buying your Halloween outfits online. Try to buy from well-known and trusted retailers.

  • Consider battery operated tealights or glow sticks inside any pumpkins, rather than tealights or candles.

  • Familiarise yourself with fire safety guidance from Hampshire & Isle of Wight Fire & Rescue Service.

  • For any products using button battery cells (such as tealights), ensure the battery compartments are not directly accessible. The cell batteries should be either secured with a screw or require two independent actions to open them. Button cells have been swallowed by children resulting in serious injuries and fatalities.

  • For any toys containing strong magnets, check to make sure that they are of a size that cannot be swallowed by a child. Like button cells, strong magnets have also resulted in serious injuries and fatalities involving children.

  • If buying fireworks, only buy them from reputable retailers and look for the UKCA or CE mark. Follow the Firework Code and make sure pets and other animals are safely indoors.

  • Store fireworks securely in the original manufacturer's packaging and keep away from children and under 18s.

  • Check sweets and edible treats are suitable for smaller children and do not present a choking hazard.

Button batteries (or cells) are a particular concern as they can cause serious injury to a child or even death.

Ian Jerrum, Hampshire Scientific Service said: "The main danger of a button cell is the size. If it fits into a small part cylinder, which we use for testing to check whether an item could be swallowed or ingested by a child, then it would be easy for a child to ingest.

"If they swallow it, it can sit on the tissue and then conduct electricity which produces a chemical called sodium hydroxide or caustic soda, which is used as a drain cleaner, and it will burn through the tissue.

"It can burn through the esophagus and then rupture a major blood vessel and cause catastrophic hemorrhage and the child could die."

Button batteries can be easily ingested by children. Credit: PA

Parents are being advised to make sure children cannot access the button batteries on a toy.

Ian Jerrum added: "If there are small attachments, like novelty toys which are around at this time of year, the parents can give them a tug, make sure they're secure.

"If toys have any long cords on them, make sure that they're not long enough to wrap around their necks as a strangulation hazard."

Councillor Russell Oppenheimer, added: "Over this period, our Trading Standards officers are also visiting retailers to ensure that anyone selling fireworks is complying with safety regulations such as storing explosives correctly and only selling to those who are over 18."

Hampshire County Council's Trading Standards team are carrying out inspections at stores across the county. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Richard Strawson, Head of Trading Standards, Hampshire County Council, said: "These checks are really important for us, they give the businesses confidence that what they're doing it right and they give consumers confidence that what they are buying is safe to use.

"If businesses don't follow the rules, obviously there are sanctions and we can seize stock and we can prosecute people.

"But with legitimate businesses it's all about helping them to trade safely and legally."

Pranay Patel, shop owner, said: "It's actually beneficial because if I am making a mistake they're there to correct me and guide me in the correct direction."