Top Tips to help keep children safe this Halloween

Lifestyle Reporter

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Lifestyle Reporter

Fireworks and frightening characters set for Halloween

Keep your little ones safe this Halloween

The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) is advising parents to keep their children safe this Halloween by checking safety labels and markings when buying costumes and accessories ahead of Thursday, October 31.

NSAI spokesperson, Pat Bracken, said: “Halloween is a special time of the year for children, but it can also pose dangers when it comes to health and safety. 

“Consumers should look out for safety standard labels on their Halloween costumes, props and toys, such as “flame resistant” and the CE mark. Both labels show that the manufacturer has complied with national and international standards.  The label doesn’t mean that these items won't catch fire, but it does indicate that they will resist burning and they should extinguish quickly once you get them away from the fire source,” Mr Bracken added.

All costumes, not just children’s costumes, must pass EN 71-2, the existing toy flammability standard.  Just because a fabric passes the flammability standard does not mean it’s flame resistant.  The requirement is based on how quickly the flame spreads (a minimum of 3.5 seconds) and does not consider the size of the flame.  Unfortunately, there is no way to tell if a fabric will be flammable just by looking at it, but to be on the safe side, follow these tips:

Check the labels on all costumes and accessories to ensure they are flame-resistant

When purchasing a costume or accessories like masks, beards or wigs, look for the CE mark and the Flame-Resistant label, which shows that the manufacturer has complied with national and international standards. Although this label does not mean these items won't catch fire, it does indicate the items will resist burning and should extinguish quickly once removed from the ignition source.

Look for the CE Mark on Halloween Toys

If your child is carrying a plastic costume prop or toy such as a mask or a pitchfork, look for the CE Mark.  Under Irish and European law, toys placed on the European market must display the CE Mark. The CE Mark demonstrates that the manufacturer has complied with the Irish and European standard, I.S. EN 71 "Safety of Toys", and the product has undergone safety testing in the design and manufacture process.

Halloween novelty lights

A number of shops are now selling Halloween novelty lights similar in style to Christmas lights. All electrical products sold in the EU, must also comply with safety standards, and must carry a CE mark. The mark should be visible on the product itself or on its packaging. If it doesn't have the CE mark, don't buy it.

Face paints can give rise to skin reactions

Most face paints do not pose a health risk when the directions on the label are followed and when the product is used properly. However, children have more sensitive skin and are more susceptible to developing a reaction, so be aware of any adverse reaction and pay attention to comments from your children on how the face paint feels.

Avoid glitter and capes

In order to protect your children from getting into contact with naked flames, we advise you avoid costumes with glitter as it tends to be more flammable.  Also, capes, trains and dangling sleeves can drag and graze a naked flame more easily and therefore should be avoided.

Batteries instead of Flames

The flame-resistant label and CE label will delay the material catching fire, but it will not prevent the costume from catching fire altogether. Therefore, it is vital parents remove the risk and avoid using candles, or naked flames. Choose battery-operated candles instead of lit ones for pumpkins.

Pick a costume that’s made of one material

Look for costumes made from 100% synthetic fibres like nylon or polyester.  Costumes that are made of one single type of material will often catch fire more slowly than those that are made from 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.

Stop, Drop and Roll

If the worst does happen and your child meets a candle or fire, make sure they know to stop, drop to the ground and roll around.  Allow the ground to suffocate the flames and not your hand.

Make sure toys are age appropriate

Make sure the props and toys your child is using this Halloween are suitable.  Some children, particularly those under the age of three, are more vulnerable, particularly to choking and less able to cope with particular toys than older children.

Remember to stay visible

Ensure your child is wearing bright or light-coloured clothing where possible, when trick-or-treating.  Give them a glow stick to carry or buy reflective tape and attach it to your child’s costume, to ensure they are visible to motorists.