Nationwide investigation launched into fire safety of children’s fancy dress clothing

It has today been announced that there will be a nationwide investigation into the safety of children’s fancy dress costumes.

The article can be read in today’s Daily Mail and the press release announcing the investigation from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills can also be accessed online .

This follows a campaign by Watchdog and an appearance by last year’s CFOA President Peter Dartford on the programme where CFOA committed to urge the government to look at the regulations and all Chief Fire Officers pledged their support.

The announcement from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills includes:

  • Trading Standards to carry out spot-checks on children’s fancy dress costumes for sale across the UK
  • Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and British Standards Institute assessing whether European safety standards are tough enough
  • News comes ahead of national fire safety campaign

The Watchdog programme showed how quickly children’s fancy dress costumes – which are currently labelled as toys – can burn if touched by a naked flame, potentially causing serious injury.

At the time of the programme, CFOA called for children’s fancy dress clothing to meet the same safety standards as children’s nightclothes. In addition, CFOA send a letter to the government and asked for the following:

  •  A regulatory change to bring children’s dressing up clothes in line with the regulations for children’s nightwear
  • Reclassify children’s dressing up outfits as clothes and not as toys
  • Raise awareness of the dangers of dressing up clothes, especially around specific events such as Halloween and bonfire night
  • Work with suppliers and manufacturers in how the materials are constructed. For instance, a dress is more likely than trousers to come into contact with a naked flame, therefore needs increased fire resistance
  • Better labelling of fancy dress clothing

According to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Business Secretary Sajid Javid has requested a nationwide investigation into the safety of children’s fancy dress costumes.

This means Trading Standards inspectors will carry out spot checks on hundreds of retailers selling fancy dress costumes in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The costumes will be subjected to flammability testing to assess whether they are safe for sale and compliant with safety standards.

The news comes after TV presenter Claudia Winkleman raised her concerns about the safety of fancy dress costumes when her daughter suffered serious burns when her fancy dress costume caught fire.

Trading Standards is set to report back to the Business Secretary on its findings later in the autumn.

In a further move, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is working with the British Standards Institute to assess whether European safety standards in this area need to be toughened-up. The findings from the Trading Standards investigation will form an important evidence base for this work.

The Government is also supporting National Burn Awareness day on 21 October, a national fire safety campaign led by the Children’s Burns Trust, to raise awareness on the dangers of fire.

  • Trading Standards will test the costumes against European Standard EN 71-2 which specifies flammability requirements for toys.
  • The safety requirements of safety for children’s fancy dress costumes are covered by EU Directive 2009/48/EC on the safety of toys, transposed into UK law by the Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011.

CFOA is looking forward to seeing the outcome of the investigation and changes made to increase children’s safety. However care must always be taken when wearing them, regardless of changes to safety standards.

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