Tips for a safe and trouble-free Halloween

Wed 7 Oct, 2015

Don’t let Halloween become scary for all the wrong reasons, warn firefighters.

Every year on 31 October, children and adults are injured in accidents where candles or fireworks have set fire to costumes and hair. Plastic capes and bin liners, often used as costumes, are also fire risks.

In May this year, TV presenter Claudia Winkleman launched a campaign on BBC 1's Watchdog after her eight-year-old daughter Matilda was injured when her Halloween witch’s costume brushed against a candle and caught fire. 

The programme highlighted the fact that children's fancy dress costumes are classed as toys rather than clothes, meaning they are subject to less rigorous safety tests than clothing.

Last month, as part of nationwide investigation, the Government announced that Trading Standards would be carrying out spot checks on children’s fancy dress costumes for sale across the UK.

Station Commander Keith Williams, from Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service's community safety team, said: “Dressing- up costumes often have trailing adornments such as tassels, capes and wings, which can catch fire if they come too close to a flame. There is nothing more terrifying than seeing your clothes catch fire.

“We don’t want to stop people enjoying Halloween, but we do want them to celebrate safely. There is nothing more terrifying than having a fire at home or seeing your clothes catch fire."

He added: “Please also follow the advice from our police and council colleagues and don’t frighten and annoy residents by being anti-social.”

Keith offered the following safety advice: 

Lanterns and candles

  • Think carefully about the fire risks – particularly the possibility of the candle falling over - if making homemade lanterns. Flickering LED candles are safer than real candles.
  • Never allow small children to carry lanterns lit by naked flames. The handle could become hot and the child could slip.
  • Lanterns should never be made from plastic bottles or other plastic containers.
  • Make sure that candles are securely placed in a correct holder away from draughts, and placed where they are not likely to be knocked over.
  • Never let children play near candles.
  • Ensure that the candles are extinguished completely at night.


  • Make sure that Halloween costumes and masks are labelled as flame-resistant.
  • Don't use flammable materials to make home-made costumes.
  • Keep children away from naked flames at all times.


  • If you are using decorative lights in your home, ensure that the electricity sockets are not overloaded.
  • Decorative lights should be switched off at the mains last thing at night, or if the bulbs need changing.

If your clothes catch fire

Additional tips from Thames Valley Police for a happy and safe this Halloween

Please also visit the special Halloween area on the Thames Valley Police website at, which includes links to posters you can print off and display if you do not want trick-or-treaters to knock at your door.

If you have young children:

  • Never let them go trick-or-treating on their own.
  • Make sure you accompany them, and only visit people you know.

If you have teenagers:

  • Make sure they don’t have access to fireworks, alcohol, eggs or flour.
  • Explain why they must not play tricks on strangers.
  • Tell them that if nobody answers the door, or a ‘No trick or treat’ sign is displayed, they must leave immediately.
  • Remind them to stay with their friends, and make sure they know that they should never enter the home of a stranger.