During Halloween 2014, there was the very sad and distressing case of the injuries endured by the daughter of Claudia Winkelman(TV Presenter).
For those who are unaware, her daughter was wearing a witch’s costume that touched a candle and as a consequence she suffered horrendous burns.
Quite rightly Claudia has now brought it into the public arena as she does want anyone else to have to go through this terrible experience.
The vast majority of the Party market supply base is very aware and conscientious about product safety. This is not purely altruistic but also commercial. Much of the supply base big and small are family businesses and they are very aware that they design and supply a great deal of product that is deemed to be used by children. Within the EU we are , in this case fortunately, policed by a variety of EU regulations designed to protect children. The majority of which come under EN71 toy regulations for flammability.
Certain sectors of the press and media have taken this to task saying it is not strict enough. They are using the regulations for night wear . Yet no clothing is inflammable. The tests involved measure the rate of burn. The test for nightwear is tougher than that of the toy regulations. So the initial reaction is that maybe they have a point. What is being overlooked is that, as far I am aware, no other form of everyday clothing have any regulations whatsoever and this includes school clothing. They are not subject to any flammability tests nor any other test for that matter.
What caused this horrendous accident was the naked flame. Dark winter nights, small children and naked flames are not a good mix and are repeated once again on Guy Fawkes night the following week.
Apparently, the surgeon taking care of Mathilda (Claudia’s daughter) felt that there was a mini epidemic of this type of accident. Accident statistics showed in 2014 there were 94 incidents involving injuries from burning or melting clothes , 21 were children under 18. Fortunately, it is not quite of epidemic proportions and we need to keep them as low as possible,but it will never be possible to eliminate them .
On Thursday, May 14th, the BBC Watchdog programme conducted an emotional but balanced interview with Claudia. Her reason for agreeing to the interview was to try and ensure that no other parent or child should have to go through the same experience . Watchdog then carried out a rather lopsided investigation. On Thursday, May 21st, they are inviting the fancy address industry representatives to respond.
If comprehensive research by the EU found that there is cause to relook at children’s fancy dress regulations, then I am sure that no established supplier in Europe would baulk at meeting the relevant norms. But the reality is that any form of clothing if exposed to a naked flame is dangerous. One way eliminate this hazard, without waiting for the EU to conduct meaningful research, is to ensure there are no naked flames anywhere near children. Hence, if you are in any doubt during Halloween 2015, make your customers aware of the dangers of the naked flame.
As a safety footnote, not just flammability issues, all major suppliers within the costume and party sector have departments within their organisations ensuring that where relevant all product meets or exceeds the relevant regulations. However, I am very aware that there is counterfeit product coming from the Far East via some very grey importers on the edge of the industry. This is also true of some traders on eBay and Amazon. A plea to all online retailers and bricks and mortar retailers that if you are offered any product from a source you don’t know and the deal looks too to be true. It probably is. Don’t hesitate to ask for genuine certication and make sure it is upto date. Most of the product within our industry comes under EU norm EN71. The major exception to this rule is cosmetics which come under the norms for cosmetics. However, I will come back the problem of counterfeiting in a later post.