Take care when buying children's costumes this Halloween.
Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service is warning parents of the potential fire risk posed by children's fancy dress costumes, which can quickly burn if touched by a naked flame.
As Halloween approaches, the Fire Service advises that fancy dress costumes should only be purchased from reputable retailers and always check the label -- clothing will always burn if in contact with naked flames, but some much faster than others.
Community Safety Manager, Alan Gilson, of Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, said: "People do not realise just how quickly a costume can catch fire and the fire spread. The design of costumes, with flowing robes, capes or petticoats means they could easily catch fire from a candle or flame and swiftly 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."
Parents are warned that the clothes should be treated as high risk, particularly around the open flames which might be found at birthday parties, Halloween or barbeques.
Alan added: "Some fabrics burn much more quickly and it isn't easy for people to check whether their clothes will catch light easily. Always keep them well clear of naked flames."
Our top tips for Halloween dressing:
* Keep away from naked flames -- avoid using a naked flame or candle in pumpkins; use a torch, glow stick or battery operated candle
* If your clothing does catch on fire then 'Stop, Drop and Roll' this is a way to try to extinguish the flames and also to stop the flames from rising towards the face.
* Choose a costume and mask that doesn't restrict a child's visibility.
* Wear woollen tights or 'heavy' trousers (jeans) and a woollen jumper under the costume.
* Avoid capes, trains, and dangling sleeves. These can drag and brush against a naked flame such as a candle and also pose the risk of a tripping hazard.
* Look out for costumes that meet European Toy (EN71), and British nightwear flammability (BS5722 test 3) safety standard -- the toughest standard that currently exists.
* Use caution when creating homemade costumes. Stick with polyester, nylon, wool, and acrylic fabrics and make sure the costumes are not loose-fitting.
* Don't use materials made of natural fibres, for example, cotton wool balls.
* Don't use refuse sacks/bin liners as capes or dresses.
* Opt for battery-operated candles instead of lit ones for pumpkins.
Our top tips for Candle Safety:
* Never leave candles or lit pumpkins unattended in your home or near a walking path.
* Make sure candles are secured in a fire resistant holder and away from furniture and curtains.
* Always leave at least 10cm between burning candles/tea lights and never place them under shelves or other enclosed spaces.
* Put candles out when you leave the room and make sure they're put out completely before you go to bed.
* Never burn a candle right down into the holder.
* Use a snuffer or a spoon to put out candles. It's safer than blowing them out when sparks can fly.
* You increase the risk of fire or injury if you move a candle while it is lit.
* Always put candles/tea lights out and leave to cool down before you try to move them.
* Keep candles, matches and lighters away from children and pets.