Sainsbury’s has announced that from Halloween 2015 it will be testing all children’s fancy dress outfits to the British nightwear flammability standard.
In addition, the retailer has announced that it will introduce tests more rigorous than the British nightwear flammability safety standard during 2016.
These announcements follow the campaign launched by the BBC’s Watchdog programme on 21 May 2015 – supported by the Chief Fire Officers Association – to change the fire safety regulations on children’s dress-up clothes. Its campaign responded to calls by TV presenter Claudia Winkleman for tougher fire safety laws on children’s costumes after the Hallowe’en costume of her eight-year-old daughter caught fire, leaving her with serious burns. Ms Winkleman gave an account of the horrific unfolding of events on the programme.
Currently, such clothes only have to be tested to EU toy standards, but as Chief Fire Officer of Bedfordshire and Luton Fire and Rescue Service Paul Fuller pointed out on Watchdog the week before, this is based on the ability of children to drop a burning teddy bear or doll, or to run away from a burning play tent or wigwam. And, as Claudia Winkleman told the programme, ‘It’s not a toy because you wear it next to bare skin’.
Watchdog asked 14 retailers what steps they would be taking on this issue. Tesco and Asda responded that they too would be applying more rigorous flammability testing to all costumes they sell, while Marks and Spencer said this would happen with all future lines that they stock. Waitrose, John Lewis, Aldi, BHS, Morrisons and Mothercare commented that they are investigating ways to do the same. No further information was given on the programme regarding the position of retailers Hamleys, ToysRUs, Lidl and Argos.
CFOA president Peter Dartford said: ‘We are pleased to hear that Sainsbury’s and some other retailers are taking steps to improve the safety of these products. I would call on all retailers to follow their example. We will be working with government to ensure that the standards for all children’s clothing are appropriate and keep our children safer.’