Parents and carers are being advised to let their kids be ‘scary but safe’ with the spooky Hallowe’en costumes they wear this year.
Experts say costumes should only be bought from reputable sources, particularly when buying on-line, and that consumers should check that the product bears a CE mark.
The message comes as West Sussex Trading Standards and West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service are about to test another selection of cheap children’s outfits to check they comply with the law and do not catch fire easily and spread too rapidly when set alight.
David Barling, West Sussex County Council Cabinet member with responsibility for Public Protection, said: “Hallowe’en is a fantastic festival which is great fun for both children and adults.
“But the message to everyone must be clear. Be scary, but don’t let the evening end in horror”.
The advice follows last year’s terrible accident involving TV presenter Claudia Winkleman’s eight-year-old daughter Matilda who received severe burns when the costume she was wearing caught fire after touching an open flame.
Prior to this horrific event last year, officers from the County Council’s Trading Standards Service bought a number of cheap Hallowe’en costumes on-line and from shops throughout the county.
With the assistance of the county’s Fire and Rescue Service, the flammability of the costumes was assessed using a blowtorch. Those that gave cause for concern were sent for formal testing at a laboratory and one costume was found to allow flames to spread too rapidly when set alight.
This was later traced to a faulty batch that had been produced in China and was subsequently recalled by the importer.
Mr Barling added: “Careful shopping is only one element of staying safe. Keeping the costumes away from naked flames is the only sure way to prevent a tragic incident.”
Trading Standards will be testing another selection of children’s Hallowe’en costumes in the same way this year.
Peter Aston Trading Standards Team Manager said: “The results of testing will not be known until nearer the end of October but we do expect the safety of these items to have significantly improved. If not we will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action.”
If buyers find any children’s costumes that don’t have a CE mark, they can let Trading Standard know by using the online reporting form at www.westsussex.gov.uk/tsreport or calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.