A quick visual assessment goes a long way!

Costumes are an instant hit with children and adults alike, adding that extra fun factor at parties and special occasions such as Halloween and New Year's Eve. Fancy dress is highly popular with children in particular as they role play during their early years, sparking imagination, building confidence and helping them find their own sense of style. In recent years, costumes have become readily accessible from various high street stores, supermarkets and online shops.

However, it vital that you are aware of the potential safety risks when purchasing a costume. Costumes mainly present risks of flammability and restriction. The costume business is on the up and business has seen increasing demand. Unfortunately, this also presents the increased risk of counterfeit products being readily available - products that may have been manufactured using inferior or unsafe materials. Therefore, you should always ensure you purchase from a credible supplier. 

​Top tips to consider with costumes

  1. When choosing a children's costume, always look for the CE marking to ensure your product is manufactured to the harmonised European Safety Standards, which includes flammability. Although this doesn’t guarantee that a product won’t catch fire, it does indicate that the product will burn slowly and present a low rate flame spreading if it ignites.

  2. Draping costumes have a higher chance of catching lit lanterns that are sometimes placed on the floor and could present a trip hazard on steps. As such, ensure your costumes fit appropriately.

  3. Purchasing items online can also pose a risk of buying from unknown sellers without knowing their history. If you are purchasing online, ensure the retailer is reputable and carries genuine products.

  4. Avoid costumes with too much glitter as the glitter itself can increase the flammability.

  5. Keep burning candles out of reach of children and pets, do not burn candles on or near anything that can catch fire.

  6. If you are unsure and concerned about the fire and safety risks of real flames choose battery operated candles instead.

  7. Choose heavier synthetic garments manufactured from a single type of fabric rather than flimsy, layered and frilly garments. Heavier synthetic garments tend to have a slower burn rate, whereas thin and flimsy garments would be expected to burn much faster.

  8. Wear clothes under your costume – this will provide added protection to your skin should you encounter a tricky situation with flames.

  9. If you are using face paints, always read the label before use.  Patch test your skin for allergy at least 2 hours before using the product.

  10. Monitor your accessories and props. Ask yourself the question – ‘would you or your child be harmed if you fell on your props?’ If so – go for softer options.

  11. If you wear a mask – ensure the eye cut outs are adequate and ensure your or your child can breathe adequately. Masks should not be worn when approaching busy roads as it can be difficult to see and they can widen your blind spot.

  12. Stay visible by wearing lighter coloured costumes – it’s particularly dark during Halloween time of year and oncoming traffic presents a hazard. If the costume is dark – you could use some reflective tape or carry glow sticks. This will keep you and your child visible to motorists.

  13. Choose sensible footwear. Most likely – any footwear provided with your costume is not suitable for outdoor use. Choosing sensible replacement for outdoor use will ensure there are no slips or trips.

Again – look for CE marking on children’s costumes that you are considering for purchase. CE marking means the product should have been manufactured by a reputable manufacturer to meet the harmonized European Safety Standards for the products concerned. Most of all, a little mental risk assessment goes along way – just take a minute to stand back and look at the costume, fitting and accessories – and ask yourself whether it looks and feels safe.

Should you encounter any difficulty – please always advise your children to ‘stop, drop and roll’ on the floor and call emergency services. This motion acts to suffocate the fire.