Thursday's Watchdog concerning the flammability of children's costumes is very serious and alarming. Our hearts go out to Young Matilda the daughter of Claudia Winkleman. We are a family business and our youngest daughter is only 5 and is always dressing up. We are very concerned at what we have seen tonight and will be immediatly reviewing all the children's costumes we sell.
One of our main suppliers is Smiffy's who have released the following statement:
At R H Smith & Sons we take safety very seriously and
invest heavily to ensure the integrity and safety of all our products.
Our dedicated in-house team ensure that all of our
fancy-dress costumes are manufactured and rigorously tested to comply with the
European regulations. This is particularly important for children’s costumes,
which are defined as Toys under EU regulations as there is an implied hazard
due to the “play factor” involved whilst wearing dress-up.
Children’s costumes must comply with stringent flammability
requirements that do not apply, by law, to children's clothing with the
exception of some sleepwear (night dresses and dressing gowns). There are very
few legal requirements dealing with the flammability of everyday children’s
clothing. Many clothing items can catch fire and burn when exposed to naked
flames and some manufacturers only voluntarily add "keep away from
fire" warnings. However, children’s costumes and dress up is regulated and
must comply with flammability requirements.
All of our children’s costumes and accessories are tested to
make sure they comply with the EN 71 set of standards in conjunction with our
nominated safety partner Intertek - a worldwide recognised safety testing
bureau. Every order is batch tested and verified as compliant at source by
Intertek; unlike other suppliers our safety certificates are continually
updated. All children’s costumes including Halloween, are further batch tested
once received in the UK Warehouse to guarantee quality and safety assurance.
EN 71 is a Europe-wide standard for toy safety and is in 12
parts. Part 2 specifically deals with the flammability potential of a toy. This
of course is paramount for a fancy dress costume. To perform the test a 40mm
flame (similar to a flame from a match or a candle) is applied to samples of
the component materials under controlled conditions. Depending on the type of
material, where it appears on the costume and its surface area, either the
flame spread rate or its self-extinguishing properties are measured against the
requirements set-out in the standard.
Specifically with regards to children’s fancy dress costumes
and capes the official guidance is as follows:
Toy disguise costumes and toys intended to be worn by a
child in play. The rate of spread of flame of the test sample shall not exceed
30 mm/or the test sample shall self-extinguish. If the rate of spread of flame
is between 10 mm/s and 30 mm/s, the appropriate part(s) of the toy and the
packaging shall be permanently marked with the following warning: “Warning.
Keep away from fire”
As a responsible supplier, we take the precaution to label
all of our children’s costumes with fire warning: "Warning. Keep away from
fire" irrespective of the burn rate within the regulatory limit.
Furthermore, all Toys that are sold within the European Union are required to
bear the CE mark. This is the manufacturer’s declaration that the product meets
the European Toy Safety Directive (2009/48/EC), and has undergone a variety of
product tests to ensure that it is safe for use.
Do not buy cheap dress-up from unrecognisable importers
and do not trust counterfeit goods. These will not have had to undergo the
processes as listed above. Check the label or packaging contains the
manufacturers name, address, postcode or phone number and a registered
trademark. Ensure the product is accompanied by instructions and safety
information. CE markings can be faked by counterfeiters, check the logo is
correct, sometimes the wrong logo is used entirely, check the middle line of
the E as it should be shorter than in other parts.
Other manufacturers may not be as vigilant about safety as
we are, cutting corners to save cost; they are not prepared to invest in safety
procedures and testing standards as we do. To make sure you are buying a
verifiable safe product, check that you are buying from an authorised
re-seller. Prior to purchase check that the packaging contains the appropriate
warnings and safety symbols, and the costume is labelled with the CE mark and