Six ways to stay safe on Halloween: Fire safety advice after Claudia Winkleman’s daughter burned in costume blaze

Claudia Winkleman
Claudia Winkleman

As Halloween approaches, County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service is reminding parents to protect their children from flammable fancy dress costumes.

The issue was highlighted last year when presenter Claudia Winkleman’s daughter was burned when her Halloween fancy dress costume accidentally caught fire.

Since then, demonstrations by fire services across the country have shown just how quickly some of the fancy dress costumes can catch fire.

County Durham and Darlington’s Chief fire officer, Stuart Errington, explained: “These costumes are not covered by current children’s clothing regulations and the safety standard for them can be as little as a ‘keep away from fire' label. Like other fire services across the country we are backing calls for costumes to be covered by current children’s clothing regulations but until this happens we would advise people to check the labels carefully.”

The fire and rescue service has issued the following advice:

1) Check the labels on any fancy dress outfits you buy and see what fire resistance they offer

2) If in doubt check with the customer services department or the store manager

3) Do not let your child go near any ignition sources – sparklers can burn at up to 2,000 degrees Celsius

4) Replace candles in pumpkins with battery powered candles – these are cheap, they do not blow out and they are much safer

5) Teach your child to STOP, DROP and ROLL in the event that their clothing does catch fire

6) In an emergency cool any burns with large amounts of water and get urgent medical assistance

CFO Errington added: “The design of costumes, often made with flowing robes or capes, means they can easily catch fire from a candle or flame and very quickly engulf a child in flames. Burn injuries are difficult to treat and once a child’s skin has been burned it does not regain its flexibility and grow as the child does. This means a young burns survivor may have to endure years of painful surgery as they grow and develop.

“The popularity of Halloween fancy dress costumes for children has grown enormously in recent years and we issue this advice to warn people so that they and their families can enjoy themselves while staying safe.”