Halloween is fast approaching and it can be a genuinely scary time for parents as highlighted last year when TV presenter Claudia Winkleman’s daughter was badly burned.
Last year, the eight-year-old daughter of Strictly Come Dancing presenter Winkleman was taken to hospital after being seriously injured when her Halloween costume caught fire.
Now as parents and children start to plan their outfits, the potential dangers of fancy dress costumes should not be underestimated.
The government has ordered spot checks of costumes, and some retailers do carry out extra testing.
But while you don’t want to take the fun out of choosing a spooktacular Halloween costume, it’s important to keep in mind some basic safety tips when buying or making an outfit that’s scary but doesn’t fill parents with fear.
Top 10 tips when buying or making your child’s Halloween costume:
1) Use or choose flame-resistant materials: It may sound like stating the obvious but be honest with yourself, how many times have you checked the label to see if a child’s costume is made from flame resistant materials? Since your child is likely to be near candles, lanterns, and other decorative flames when they go to Halloween parties or out trick-or-treating, this safety is rule number one.
2) Look for a good fit: When it comes to choosing a Halloween costumes, one of the biggest things to avoid is putting your child in something that’s too big or loose. A costume that’s too long can cause the child to trip, can easily snag on objects and other kids and can potentially catch light more easily around open flames, such as candles, which are very commonly used around Halloween. So choose a costume that fits snugly and is the right length.
3) Keep the neck area clear: Try to avoid anything that could pose a strangulation or choking hazard, such as costumes that are too tight round the neck or have cords or sashes that go around the neck. Costume jewellery could also get tangled around the neck.
4) Cut out the capes: Capes on costumes are very common but can pose strangulation risks, and could get caught on something or cause a child to trip.
5) Use masks sensibly: I don’t mean when scaring people, of course that’s the whole point. But if you allow your child to have a mask, make sure they only wear it for photos or when not walking near busy roads. Many masks can obstruct a child’s vision, and could pose a danger, especially when it’s dark at night. Make sure it fits snugly on your child’s face so that it doesn’t slip and has large holes around the eyes. Also check to make sure that they can breathe comfortably while wearing it.
6) Read face paint labels: Face paint is often used at Halloween but do make sure you read labels carefully and choose paint that is FDA-approved and meant for use on skin - remember “non-toxic” doesn’t necessarily means it’s safe for use on the sensitive skin of a child’s face.
7) Think about your accessories: Any Halloween costume accessories such as swords or knives should be flexible and soft which is stating the obvious. But do make sure that anything your child carries, such as a wand or cane, has no sharp edges or points. A good question to ask yourself here is ‘Would they be hurt if they fell on it’?
8) Stay visible: A lot of Halloween costumes use dark colours which are hard to see at night. Why not tape or sew reflective materials onto your child’s costume to make sure that he can be seen in the dark, this can even be incorporated into the design if you are in creative mood. Also consider carrying a torch, which kids love anyway, and most retailers sell battery operated Halloween-themed torches which will be both fun and ensure your child stays seen.
9) Think about safe footwear: Keep in mind that many of the dress-up shoes that come with kids’ costumes are not meant for outdoor use. Make sure shoes fit properly and are not the cheap, plastic kind that have no traction and could cause a child to slip and fall. Why not avoid the themed footwear altogether and just have your child wear their trainers when trick-or-treating outdoors.
10) Use common sense: The most important of all. Just use your parental instincts and ask yourself do you feel comfortable with what they are wearing and know the surroundings where they are going to be and happy haunting.