REMEMBER: The main thing to do is use your own common sense and rust your parental instincts. If it doesn’t feel safe or comfortable, then it probably isn’t; go with your gut, follow our advice, and keep things safe this Halloween.
Choosing a Costume
Everyone loves dressing up at Halloween, children most of all. And it’s so sweet seeing them go from door-to-door trick or treating locally – who doesn’t take a million pictures before they go out with their little buckets? But sadly it can be dangerous for some children, as there have been a number of well-documented accidents where children’s Halloween costumes were set alight by accident.
Don’t worry too much though- there are lots of things you can do to mitigate the risk. You need to make sure what you buy is as safe as it can be from candles, fires and sparks, and you need to brief them on what to look out for, as well as what to do if the worst happens. We’re sure everyone will stay safe this Halloween, but you can be super sure if you read our fullproof guide to Halloween costume safety!
1. Use flame-resistant materials
As it’s Halloween, your child is very likely to be near candles, lanterns, and other decorative flames. Polyester and nylon are both flame-resistant materials, for example. When picking out your child’s costume always look for the label “flame-resistant” and make sure there is a visible CE mark.
REMEMBER: It’s safer to choose costumes made up of one layer of heavier materials as opposed to flimsy, layered, frilly ones. Thinner materials made up of lots of layers tend to burn much faster because more oxygen can get to the fire.
2. Pick a costume that’s made out of ONE material
Costumes that are made of one single type of material will often catch fire more slowly than those that are made out of lots of different materials.
If a costume is made of a variety of different fabrics, they can all react to a flame in a different way and, in some cases, can fuel the fire even faster.
3. Wear clothes UNDER the costume
Not only because it can go from warm to chilly here in Arizona when you’re trick or treating but also because it’s safer. Speaking about costumes, Kevin O’Neill from the Fire and Rescue Service said: “These are toys. Toys have a lower fire safety requirement. They have a lower fire safety standard. Just be aware of that and take measures.
One of those measures is to ensure children are wearing clothes under the costume.
They should be wearing woollen tights for example or a woollen jumper or jeans. That way it gives some protection that if they were to catch fire you’ve still got a barrier between the garment and your skin.”
4. Ditch the capes
Capes are very common on Halloween costumes, but – as proven by Madonna – they can pose a tripping hazard even to adults. More worryingly, however, is the fact that they pose a strangulation risk.
And on that note…
Avoid costumes and costume jewellery that is tight around the throat. Avoid anything, especially cords and sashes, that tie around the neck.
5. Read the label on face paints
If you are buying face paints then they should be FDA approved. Always look for a CE mark and always check the packaging displays clear ingredients in English.
And remember that the words ‘non-toxic’ doesn’t always mean it will be safe for your skin. Do an allergy test on a small patch of skin before using on you or your childs face.
No matter how tired you are following a night of fun, make sure you remove any costume makeup before bedroom to prevent possible skin irritation.
6. Keep an eye on accessories and props
Swords, knives, and other costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible. If you think if you, a friend or your child would be hurt if their was a fall on the accessory, be it a wand or a sword, then do not wear it.
Again, look for a visible CE mark when purchasing.
7. Be careful with masks
You want to make sure that a mask fits well (so that it’s comfortable and doesn’t slip), that the eye holes are big enough to see out of, and that you can breathe comfortably while wearing it.
8. Remember to stay visible
Choose bright and light coloured costumes and clothing wherever possible. If you or your kids are heading out trick-or-treating or an outdoor party, carry a glow stick, and buy reflective tape and attach it to your/ your childs costume. This will ensure that motorists can see your child – and that you can keep an eye on them!
9. Don’t forget the shoes!
Wear well-fitting, sturdy shoes. You don’t need to wear “red-carpet starlet” high heels; leave them at home and pop on sturdy footwear that you won’t trip in.
And, on the note, remember that many shoes that come with costumes are NOT meant for outdoor use; make sure your child is wearing shoes that fit properly and have proper grip to them, so that they don’t slip and fall. Also so they can comfortably survive the night walking around in their shoes.
10. And of course, make sure it fits
Do not purchase costumes that are flimsy, billowing, too big, or that drag on the ground; not only will this be a tripping hazard, but it could also get caught up in Halloween candles.
A Few Additional Halloween Safety Precautions:
While Out Trick or Treating
- Be safe, be seen. To easily see and be seen, children should also carry flashlights.
- Young children should always be accompanied by an adult or an older, responsible child.
- All children should WALK, not run, from house to house and use the sidewalk, if available, rather than walk in the street.
- Cross streets at the corner, use crosswalks (where they exist), and do not cross between parked cars.
- Parents should plan out the trick-or-treating route – best to stay on well lit roads with sidewalks.
- Children should be cautioned against running out from between parked cars or across lawns and yards where ornaments, furniture, or clotheslines present dangers.
- For greater visibility during dusk and darkness, decorate or trim costumes with reflective tape that will glow in the beam of a car’s headlights. Bags or sacks should also be light colored or decorated with reflective tape. Reflective tape is usually available in hardware, bicycle, and sporting goods stores.
- Bring a flashlight and cell phone with you.