Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

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Fancy Dress Fire Warning - video

Candles and fancy dress costumes can be a potentially deadly combination. That is the stark warning from Essex County Fire and Rescue Service after test showed that children’s costumes can become engulfed in flames in seconds.

The Service teamed up with BBC Essex to test how different costumes, all of which are widely available, reacted when a candle was held up against them. In some cases the results were truly shocking with flames taking hold immediately and the entire costume alight in seconds.

This video shows just how quickly and fiercely flames took hold and how completely fire destroyed the costumes.

Divisional Officer Neil Fenwick said: “The results of our tests were truly terrifying. These costumes caught light very easily, burned quickly and if a child had been wearing one when it caught light they could easily have been killed.

“That is why we are recommending that people use LED candles and not naked flames. Our test showed just how combustible these children’s costumes can be so our advice is avoid naked flames at all costs.

“These costumes are made from synthetic materials so as well as burning they will melt and stick to the skin causing horrific burns.

“If someone’s clothes catch light they should stop, drop and roll. The correct procedure is to drop to the floor immediately and roll around to smother the flames.

“Under no circumstances should these costumes be worn on fireworks night. They are simply not safe to be around fires and fireworks.”

ECFRS has joined calls from the Chief Fire Officer’s Association for this classification to be changed so that fancy dress costumes are subject to the same safety standards as children’s nightclothes.

To have a safe and spooky Halloween our advice is:

- It is far safer to use flickering LED candles than real candles in pumpkins and as part of displays.
- Make sure that fancy dress costumes and masks are labelled as flame-resistant.
- Don't use flammable materials to make home-made costumes. Be especially careful about using bin liners as capes
- Keep children away from naked flames and don’t let them carry lit candles or lanterns with a real candle in them.
- If you must use candles make sure they are securely placed in a correct holder away from curtains, cushions and draughts in a place where they are not likely to be knocked over.
- Make sure candles are extinguished when you go to bed
- If you are using decorative lights in your home, ensure that electricity sockets are not overloaded and that they’re switched off at the socket at night.

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