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26th Oct 2018

8 things every parent needs to know before Halloween

Better safe than sorry.

Katie Mythen-Lynch

It’s a time of year that’s full of fun and excitement, but few parents are aware of just how easily Halloween joy can turn into disaster or tragedy in the flicker of a candle.

We all watched in horror a number of years back as Claudia Winkleman recalled the horror of seeing her eight-year-old daughter’s Halloween witch costume go up in flames.

Matilda was left with third degree burns following the incident, but the outcome could have been much, much worse.

Ahead of the big night, we’re asking all our readers to share this life-saving safety advice from the National Standards Authority of Ireland:

1. Look for the CE mark and flame-resistant labels on costumes

Look for the CE mark and the Flame Resistant label when shopping for a Halloween costume or accessories. These marks show that the manufacturer has complied with national and international standards. Although this label does not mean these items won’t catch fire, it does indicate the items will resist burning and should extinguish quickly once removed from the ignition source.

2. Look for the CE Mark on Halloween toys

If your child is carrying a plastic costume prop or toy such as a mask or a pitchfork, look for the CE Mark. Under Irish and European law, toys placed on the European market must display the CE Mark.  The CE Mark demonstrates that the manufacturer has complied with the Irish and European standard, I.S. EN 71 “Safety of Toys”, and the product has undergone safety testing in the design and manufacture process.

3. Ensure Halloween novelty lights are safe

Halloween novelty lights, similar in style to Christmas lights, are widely available in shops.  However, all electrical products sold in the EU must also comply with safety standards and must carry a CE mark.  The mark should be visible on the product itself or on its packaging.  If it doesn’t have the CE mark, don’t buy it.

4. Avoid glitter and capes

In order to protect your children from getting into contact with naked flames, we advise you avoid costumes with glitter as it tends to be more flammable.  Also, capes, trains and dangling sleeves can drag and graze a naked flame more easily and therefore should be avoided.

5. Use batteries instead of flames

The flame resistant label and CE label will delay the material catching fire, but it will not prevent the costume from catching fire altogether. Therefore it is vital parents remove the risk and avoid using candles, or naked flames. Opt for battery-operated candles instead of lit ones for pumpkins.

6. Pick a costume that’s made of one material

Look for costumes made from 100% synthetic fibres like nylon or polyester. Costumes that are made of one single type of material will often catch fire more slowly than those that are made out of lots of different materials.  If a costume is made of a variety of different fabrics they can all react to a flame in a different way and in some cases, can fuel the fire even faster.

7. Read the label on face paints

Always look for the CE mark when buying face paints and ensure that the ingredients are clearly displayed on the packaging in English.

8. Stop, Drop and Roll

If the worst does happen and your child comes into contact with a candle or fire, make sure they know to stop, drop to the ground and roll around.  Allow the ground to suffocate the flames and not your hand.

Watch Claudia Winkleman’s stark warning for parents here.