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Claudia Winkleman wins battle to ban fire hazard Halloween costumes 3 years after daughter's horror accident

Strictly Come Dancing host Claudia Winkleman has won a battle in her bid to prevent children’s fancy dress costumes being fire hazards.

She began the fight after her daughter, Matilda, suffered severe burns when her Halloween witch’s costume brushed against a candle on a doorstep and caught fire within seconds, in 2014.

Matilda, now 11, spend three weeks in hospital as Claudia took time off Strictly to be by her bedside.

Claudia said of the moment: “I heard her shout and she was on fire. It feels like she was on fire for hours. She went up.”

Now the TV star’s fight has led to a rule change that should make Halloween outfits much safer. Industry body the British Retail Consortium has announced voluntary guidelines, stating that fabric on toys – which kids’ costumes are classed as – cannot burn faster than 10mm per second.

It is a significant improvement on the current legislation which allows a burn rate of 30mm per second. The Mirror has put the new rule to the test, with one of the six high street chain Halloween costumes failing.

Claudia's daughter Matilda was left with severe burns after her outfit caught fire in 2014

Claudia, 45, said yesterday: “I’m pleased to hear about the new guidelines. But as they are only voluntary, they are only a first step...

“I sincerely hope the Government continues to push for these guidelines to be made a legal requirement.”

The BRC said: “The terrible accident involving Claudia Winkleman’s daughter focused attention on what were seen as failings to the existing Toy Safety Standard for the flammability of children’s costumes.” It is now lobbying the Government and the EU to make the guidelines law.

Wilko’s Grim Reaper outfit failed our test, burning at 10.6mm per second. This costume, as well as Sainsbury’s Creepy Jester outfit and one from Morrisons burnt the full length of the sample. West Yorkshire Materials Testing Service rated Aldi , Asda and Tesco outfits the best as they all “self-extinguished”.

Trading standards chief David Lodge warns parents not to be "lulled into thinking outfits are 100% fireproof"

West Yorks trading standards boss David Lodge said: “While the tests show a step forward, parents must not be lulled into thinking all outfits are 100% fireproof.”

Wilko said it tested far more samples than the Mirror did, adding: “We are confident [our] 35 costumes meet the legal requirement and the higher BRC level of testing.”

Sainsbury’s said: “Our costumes are tested to the European toy and British nightwear flammability safety standards [and] our own stringent standard.”

Halloween costumes given trial by fire

Grim Reaper, Wilko, £8

Time taken to catch fire: 4 seconds

Time to reach second marker: 47 seconds

Rate of flame spread: 10.6mm per second

Creepy Jester, Sainsbury’s, £14

Time taken to catch fire: 2 seconds

Time to reach second marker: 61 seconds

Rate of flame spread: 8.2mm per second

Gothic Bride, Morrisons, £12

Time taken to catch fire: 4 seconds

Time to reach second marker: 75 seconds

Rate of flame spread: 6.7mm per second

Time taken to catch fire: 8 seconds


Halloween Queen, Asda, £12

Time taken to catch fire: 3 seconds


Zombie Pirate, Aldi, £3.99

Time taken to catch fire: 4 seconds


How we did candle test for danger

Giles Dive testing fabrics

Fabric samples from each outfit were stretched across a metal rig and a cotton thread marker placed across the material at 50mm from the hem and at 500mm.

A flame measuring 40mm to replicate a candle flame was held to the end of the material for 10 seconds.

Flame replicates a candle flame

Flammability expert Giles Dive then timed how long it took for the fire to breach the first and second cotton thread to calculate the rate of burn in accordance with the official British Standard test BS EN 71-2

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