We're backing Claudia and BBC Watchdog campaign

Thu 14 May, 2015

Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service is backing a safety campaign which will be launched tonight on BBC 1’s Watchdog programme (Thursday 14 May, 8pm to 9pm).

In includes an interview with TV presenter Claudia Winkleman, whose eight-year-old daughter Matilda was injured when her Halloween witch’s costume brushed against a candle and caught fire last October.

As part of an investigation to be screened tonight, Watchdog intends to highlight a legal flaw which classes fancy dress costumes as toys, rather than clothes. This means they are subject to less rigorous safety tests than clothing.

The programme will also remind viewers how important it is to take care near candles, open fires and fireworks.

Station Commander Keith Williams from Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service 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."

Keith offered the following advice to help you reduce the risk of this type of fire:


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


  • 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.


  • Think carefully about the fire risks – particularly the possibility of the candle falling over - if making homemade lanterns.
  • 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.

If your clothes catch fire