CPSC and U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s recent seizure at a U.S. port of two shipments of children’s Halloween costumes with safety issues has resulted in many questions to us about what parents should look for when buying a Halloween costume.
Here are some things for you to consider:
Q: Are costumes required to be flame resistant?
A: Yes. Costumes can’t have fabrics that burn rapidly and intensely. This applies to all clothing, including costumes.
Q: Are accessories such as wigs, beards and wings also required to be flame resistant?
A: Yes. Both Halloween accessories and toys must meet flammability requirements.
Q: Different Halloween costumes have different warnings. Some say “flame resistant.” Some say “keep away from flames.” Some say nothing. Does this mean that some items are flame resistant and others are not?
A: No. All costumes must meet the flammability requirements. This doesn’t mean that textiles won’t burn. All textiles can burn and should be kept away from flames. Parents should look for costumes made from synthetic fibers like nylon and polyester because these materials are less likely to ignite, will resist burning and will extinguish more quickly if they do ignite. Manufacturers sometimes promote this by putting a “flame resistant” label on the package. The warning label to keep a costume away from flames is important advice that is provided by the manufacturer.
Q: How can a parent tell if a costume is safe?
A: You should have two concerns. First, check for any labels on the costume about its flammability and the materials that the costume is made from. Second, choose well-fitting costumes that are not too big and billowy.
Q: The costumes mentioned above contained lead. How can parents know whether a product meets the lead requirement?
A: All children’s costumes sold in the U.S. must meet federal lead safety standards. Manufacturers must test costumes if they contain certain items that could have lead, like buttons, snaps and appliques, as well as other Halloween-themed accessories.
Q: How else can parents keep their children safe on Halloween?
- Carve pumpkins safely. Sixty-four percent of Halloween-related injuries between October and November last year were related to pumpkin carving.
- Use battery operated candles and lights instead of candles.
- If you are making your child’s costume, trim the costume or outerwear with reflective tape to make it easier for your child to be seen.
- Carry flashlights or glow sticks when trick-or-treating after dusk.
You can find more Halloween safety tips in our Halloween Safety Alert.