Several Halloween fancy dress costumes are still a fire risk despite safety measures brought in after Claudia Winkleman’s daughter suffered serious burns four years ago.
The Strictly Come Dancing presenter’s daughter Matilda suffered a leg injury when a supermarket witch’s costume was set alight by a candle inside a pumpkin while she was out trick-or-treating.
Following the accident to Matilda, then eight, the British Retail Consortium introduced a voluntary fire safety standard for fancy dress outfits, based on how long they take to catch fire.
However, research by consumer group Which? suggests that some costumes fail to meet this standard and others fail even to abide by the legal minimum. Video shows that in tests one witch costume made from cheap polyester was engulfed in flames and effectively melted within seconds. Which? tested 20 outfits from online and high street retailers including Asda, Sainsbury’s, B&M, Wilko, Amazon and eBay.
The two costumes that failed to meet the legal minimum were a werewolf mask for children as young as five that came as part of a £9.99 costume from B&M and a headpiece from a £11.99 Maleficent costume sold through eBay.
Four failed to meet the tougher BRC standards, a £9.99 witch costume made of satin-like material from B&M, a £9.99 witch costume from eBay, a Rubie’s Ghostbusters outfit from Amazon at £19.98 – which is marketed for children as young as three – and the Maleficent witch outfit sold by eBay.
Which? said the BRC code has loopholes as it does not cover masks – so would not outlaw the B&M werewolf mask that failed to meet the legal standard.
Following its investigation, eBay, Amazon and B&M have removed from sale the items that failed fire safety tests.
Alex Neill of Which? said: ‘We were shocked to find Halloween costumes that claimed to pass the legal British safety requirement actually failed our flammability testing.’
Jeremy James, of Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: ‘You should only buy fancy dress costumes from reputable retailers and always check the label.
‘Instead of using candles to decorate a pumpkin, why not choose battery- powered LED tea lights.’ B&M said it was recalling the werewolf outfit, while eBay said the Maleficent costume’s listing has been removed and its seller has been asked to offer refunds.
Amazon said: ‘Third-party sellers are required to comply with all relevant laws and regulations.
‘The product in question is no longer available.’