A number of supermarkets including Sainsbury's, Asda and Tesco have announced plans to improve their safety standards on children's fancy dress costumes. The news follows Claudia Winkleman's decision to speak publicly about what happened when her eight-year-old daughter's supermarket-bought Halloween costume caught fire, causing life-limiting injuries.
In a recent interview screened by BBC 1's Watchdog, Claudia said of the experience:
"She went up, is the only way I know how to describe it. It was not like fire I had seen before. We couldn't put her out. Her tights had melted into her skin. It was the tights that... they came back to life. It was like those horrific birthday candles that you blow out, and then they come back."
The Watchdog investigation found that many children's costumes were ablaze within seconds of being set on fire by a candle. The costumes have historically been sold as toys or 'occasion wear' rather than clothing, which means they have not to date been subject to the same fire safety standards as children's clothing.
Sainsbury's says its fancy dress range for children will be subjected to the same thorough fire safety standards that are currently applied to nightwear, and Tesco and Asda say that testing on their children's costumes will be more rigorous. Marks & Spencer says it will also test any future lines of fancy dress costumes for kids thoroughly.
The Mirror newspaper reports that Claudia said:
"I love Sainsbury’s for it. Others are doing it too. I had to so something.”
A Sainbury's spokesperson said:
"We have looked at every detail of our children’s dress-up range in creating our new standard and believe that it will be industry-leading. This has not been a simple task, but the safety of children is our number one priority and introducing more rigorous safety standards for our children’s dress-up is the right thing to do. All clothing carries some fire risk, but we hope that introducing our own rigorous testing standards that test clothes as clothes rather than as toys will be the first step towards safer testing across the industry."
It seems unthinkable that it should take a child suffering such serious injuries for this change to be made, but we're glad to hear that Claudia's call for better fire safety standards on children's fancy dress costumes has been heeded.
If you have a strong opinion on this issue, we'd love to hear about it on our Facebook page.