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Flammable fancy dress costumes

Do the children in your care enjoy wearing fancy dress costumes? Are you aware of the possible risks and flame resistance of those costumes?

With the number of children taken to hospital with burns due to fancy dress clothing increasing (figures show that 94 people in England were admitted to hospital as a result of their clothing either igniting or melting last year, of which 21 were children under 18), and the high profile case of Claudia Winkleman’s daughter’s costume catching alight at Halloween, it is a risk that needs to be continually addressed.

Make time to look at the costumes you have in your setting and consider whether you need to review the risk assessments you have in place. It may be appropriate to re-assess them, considering the possible scenarios that could arise.

Consider the risk

We understand that children being around naked flames away from the kitchen area is not very likely, and that you will already have relevant risk assessments in place, but have you thought about your dressing up box?

Imagine the scenario. There’s a birthday in your setting. The children are in fancy dress to celebrate, enjoying role play and playing and learning together. They gather around the birthday cake in excitement to blow out the birthday candles. Naked flames from the candles are in close proximity to fancy dress costumes – outfits that could go up in flames in seconds.

Lower the risk

Following children’s interests is an important part of child development and role play and imaginative play shouldn’t need to be restricted and constrained due to these risks.

However, having an awareness of the risks is important; understanding the flammability of the costumes and having precautions in place if an accident were to arise.

Keep a fire blanket to hand

You probably already have one in the kitchen, but consider keeping a fire blanket in your fancy dress box alongside the costumes. Having it close to hand in your setting means you can act quickly in the event of a fire, helping lower the risk of harm to the child.

Read here for further information on fire evacuation procedures and access your free downloadable fire evacuation poster here.

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