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Halloween costumes can 'engulf a child in flames' fire service warns

Fire services are warning parents of the dangers of children's Halloween costumes. Credit: PA Images

Children's Halloween costumes can "quickly go up in flames" even if touched briefly by a naked flame, a fire service has warned.

Devon & Somerset Fire and Rescue Service say the costumes should be "treated as high risk" because their designs, often featuring capes and petticoats, mean they can easily catch fire and "engulf a child in flames."

They are advising adults to only buy Halloween costumes from reputable retailers and always check the label.

Clothing will always burn if exposed to a naked flame, but some materials catch fire much faster than others.

People do not realise just how quickly a costume can catch fire and the fire spread. The design of costumes, with flowing robes, capes or petticoats means they could easily catch fire from a candle or flame and swiftly engulf a child in flames.

– Alan Gilson, Community Safety Manager, Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service
The service is urging parents not to use candles or other naked flames inside pumpkins. Credit: PA Images

Here are some of Devon & Somerset Fire's safety tips:

  • Avoid using a candle in pumpkins - use a torch, glow-stick or battery operated candle.
  • If a costume does catch fire, use the 'Stop, Drop and Roll' technique to try and extinguish the flames.
  • Choose a costume and mask that doesn't restrict a child's visibility.
  • Wear clothing underneath the costume - preferably a woollen jumper, woollen tights or jeans.
  • Avoid capes, trains and dangling sleeves.

They are urging parents to buy costumes that meet European Toy and British nightwear flammability safety standards.

If making a costume at home, they advise:

  • Use polyester, nylon, wool and acrylic fabrics.
  • Make sure the costumes are not loose-fitting.
  • Avoid materials using natural fibres, like cotton wool balls.
  • Don't use bin liners as capes or dresses.