County fire chiefs are warning parents about the dangers of their children’s potentially flammable fancy dress costumes this Halloween.
Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service has issued the plea following the traumatic case of Claudia Winkleman’s daughter Matilda last year.
The eight-year-old was trick-or-treating with friends on a doorstep near her home on Halloween when her witch’s costume was set alight by a candle.
She suffered serious burns to her leg and now her mother is campaigning to warn other parents of the dangers of supermarket Halloween costumes ahead of Saturday’s festivities.
As part of the drive, various outfits were put through a fire safety test at Longfield Training Centre in Stevenage.
Testers brushed a tealight flame past the outfits’ hems and the results they got were shocking.
Some of them burned away within 40 seconds and ‘melted off the hanger into molten clumps’.
All the outfits tested had CE marks, which mean they comply with EU regulations on flammability, but bosses say that is not enough.
Richard Thake, Herts County Council cabinet member for Community Safety, said: “Unfortunately fancy dress costumes don’t fall into the same category as other clothing, so they don’t have to meet the same safety requirements.
“If a child were wearing the outfits tested, this would have caused some significant burns which could be quite life-changing.”
Hertfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards team are carrying out their own lab tests to lobby the government about just how dangerous these costumes can be.
The team are hoping people will think twice before lighting candles near children’s costumes.
Councillor Thake said: “This is a serious issue about keeping these costumes away from sources of ignition and naked flames.
“We haven’t had local incidences of this; however, we don’t want this year to be the first.”