Safety tips for a happy Halloween and Bonfire Night

‘Stay safe’ warning from council boss Jacqui Kennedy, Acting Strategic Director of Place .

This weekend ghosts and ghouls will be ‘trick or treating’ in scary disguises, so here’s some tips from Birmingham Trading Standards to help you avoid any horror stories.

Fancy dress safety was highlighted last year after TV presenter Claudia Winkleman’s daughter suffered serious burns as her witch’s outfit caught fire when she brushed past a lit candle.

Costumes are classed as toys, so they don’t have to be as fire retardant as children’s nightwear which has to meet higher safety standards. Most are made from flammable, synthetic materials and are often long and flowing, so avoid getting too close to naked flames.

If clothing does catch fire, children should ‘stop, drop and roll’: stop what they’re doing, drop to the ground and roll around to extinguish the flames.

Fancy dress outfits should also be checked for choking hazards: anything that could be pulled off and placed in the mouth, or long cords or ribbons over 7.5cm (3 inches) that may pose a strangulation threat, are best avoided. Velcro and popper fasteners are safer options.

Cosmetics, such as face paints, are also regulated: all ingredients used must be listed on the packaging – as some substances such as lead and mercury, are banned – along with a ‘best before date’. To ensure children can safely cross roads while out trick or treating, make masks or hats are not obscuring their vision.

As firework parties often overlap with Halloween events, it is important to remember the Firework Code.

Fireworks are explosives and should be used with caution and children should always be closely supervised.

Typically rockets can reach speeds of 150mph, go as high as 200 meters and sparklers can reach temperatures of up to 2,000C – 200 times hotter than boiling water, so fireworks should always be handled with care. Sparklers should never be given to children under five.

In Birmingham, West Midlands Fire Service issue licences to premises to allow them the sale of fireworks, which must comply with British Standard 7114. There are restrictions on when fireworks can be sold and it is a criminal offence to sell them to anyone under 18.

Retailers who are permitted to sell fireworks will have received advice on their safe storage and the rules on who they can sell products to. I would ask that parents do not allow their children to attempt to buy them.

It is also a criminal offence to let fireworks off in the street. The police can issue on the spot fines or take legal action for anti-social behaviour.

So please be safe, be seen and have fun on Halloween and Bonfire Night.