Don’t let Halloween turn into a nightmare - warns Fire Service and Trading Standards

12 October 2021

A safety warning about costumes has been issued in advance of Halloween.

If something seems too cheap to be a good deal, it may be because safety standards have been compromised. That’s the message from Norfolk’s Fire Service and Trading Standards teams as they ask everyone to take extra care this Halloween to ensure the safety of their families.

Norfolk’s Chief Fire Officer Stuart Ruff said: “Buying cheap costumes could put you at risk of fire, if the materials used do not meet safety standards. Materials which haven’t been tested to ensure high standards could quickly ignite and cause serious injury or even death.”

Flammability tests of some items on sale showed a monster Halloween t-shirt took less than a minute to be engulfed in flames. They also tested witches hats, capes, skeleton tights and pumpkin tops.

To keep your little monsters safe from harm this Halloween, Norfolk Fire and Rescue advises:

  • Read the labels - products must have a UKCA or CE mark. As well as clothing, check any wigs or masks too
  • Wear clothes under the costumes, they offer vital extra seconds of protection for the skin should the worst happen
  • Ditch the scary mask for face paints instead (remember to do an allergy test first before applying!)
  • Swap candles for battery operated tealights or glow sticks
  • Do not leave candles unattended and ensure they are fully extinguished at bedtime

You can see the video of the clothing tests: Spooked out: Halloween costume safety checks with Fire Service/Trading Standards - YouTube (credit: Surrey Fire and Rescue Service).

“It’s frightening how quickly these unsafe costumes can become completely engulfed and residents should only buy from reputable suppliers. Check the packaging and labels for manufacturers or importers details.

"If anyone has concerns about the safety of Halloween products on sale they should call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133,” said Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, Cabinet Member for Communities and Partnerships at Norfolk County Council.

Candle safety

This week is also Candle Fire Safety Week (11-17 October). More than 300 people are injured each year in the UK in fires caused by candles. And a third of fires attended by fire and rescue services and started by candles result in death or serious injury.

Candles should be kept away from flammable materials such as curtains and out of reach of children and pets.

Even with precautions it’s vital to be prepared should the worst happen. Working smoke alarms can give you the vital time you need to get out, stay out and call 999.

Keep yourself and your loved ones safe by testing your alarm regularly and practicing your escape routes.

Find more about candle safety

Bonfire/firework safety

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service recommends going to an organised firework/bonfire display which is properly regulated and safer than organising one at home.

If you do host a bonfire at home, please build it well away from buildings, sheds, trees and fences. Do not throw anything dangerous on to it and make sure you have water nearby. Let your neighbours know your plans.

If you’re having fireworks at home, only buy from reputable retailers, store them correctly and read the instructions carefully. Never go back to a firework once it has been lit. Keep children and pets away from fireworks.

More about firework safety.

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