Halloween costumes are the perfect chance for kids to highlight their creativity while adding a bit of spooktacular fun to the evening, but the importance of costume safety cannot be overlooked. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when shopping for Halloween costumes for your little one.
1. Look for flame-resistant materials
As it’s the spooky season, your child is likely to be near lanterns, candles, and other decorative flames. Open flames can pose a serious threat at Halloween time, and certain costume materials and fabrics simply don’t meet the federal flammability standard.
The Flammable Fabrics Act that was passed in 1953 regulates the manufacture of highly flammable clothing such as children’s cowboy chaps and brushed rayon sweaters. Whether you plan to make costumes yourself or buy them from the store, it’s up to you to take the necessary precautions and double-check that the materials you go for will help keep your little ones as safe as possible.
- Store-bought costumes
Most of the costumes you’ll find in stores are rated fire-safe for children and typically come prepackaged as a set. It might be less hectic to shop for outfits that are bundled into one selection than separate pieces - that way, all you have to do is check the packaging the look comes in to see if it’s rated for Halloween fire safety. Many fabric stores also have spray-on fire retardants for use on clothing. If you’re not sure about a costume’s fire safety, these spray-on options can offer an extra layer of protection. If you shop for Halloween costumes online, you might come across fire-resistance information in product descriptions.
- Homemade costumes
The creative rewards of making Halloween costumes for your kids are high, but you’ll want to carefully consider the fabrics you select for safety. For example, a toilet-paper mummy may be an effortless and fun costume to create, but one lick of a flame from a Jack-o-lantern could instantly send it up in flames. In addition to paper, you’ll also want to steer clear of long, trailing capes and big, billowing styles and accessories, as well.
- What are some fire-safe fabrics for Halloween?
While all fabrics are capable of catching on fire, some choices are safer than others. Knit or tightly woven fabrics are generally more fire-resistant, while snug-fitting outfits are less likely to waft into nearby flames. Some of the safest costume fabrics for your little ones to wear on Halloween include wool and modacrylics.
Cotton and silk are more flammable than wool, but they can be treated to increase flame resistance. Synthetic fabrics like nylon, acrylic, and polyester are generally safe, but it’s worth noting that they’re not heat-resistant. If they catch fire, they tend to melt quickly, which could cause extremely painful burns and damage the skin.
2. Have your kids wear layers under the costume
Halloween is celebrated in the fall, so make sure your little ones wear warm layers under the costume to keep the cold out. You can have them wear woolen tights as the base layer so that warm air is trapped inside to act as an insulator.
3. Choose a Halloween costume that’s made out of one material
Costumes that are made of one type of material are less likely to catch on fire as fast as those that are made out of an array of materials. If a kid’s costume is made of different fabrics, they can all react to fire differently and unexpectedly, and sometimes even fuel the fire.
4. Keep an eye out for labels on face paints
If you plan to buy face paints that are targeted at kids, make sure that they are FDA approved. Check that the packaging displays the ingredients, and avoid anything that might be toxic. Keep in mind that the word “non-toxic” doesn't always mean that a product will be safe for your child’s skin. Make a point of doing an allergy test on a small patch of skin to eliminate the risk of an allergic reaction. Following a night of spookiness and fun, make sure to remove any costume makeup before sleep to prevent skin irritation.
5. Forget the capes
Capes are an integral part of many Halloween costumes, but they can pose a tripping hazard to young children. To make matters worse, they also pose a strangulation risk. For your child’s safety, ditch the capes, and also avoid any costumes and accessories that are tight around the neck.
6. Be careful with accessories and props
If your child’s Halloween costume includes an accessory or prop, make sure that it’s short, soft, and flexible (including swords, wands, and knives). If you’re wary of your little one hurting themselves with their accessory, then it might be better to forgo it altogether.
7. Go for bright and light-colored costumes for visibility
Look for bright and reflective clothing and costumes wherever possible. If your kids are heading out for trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, consider giving them a glow stick to carry and/or buying reflective tape to attach to their costume. Reflective tape makes it easier for motorists to see kids and consequently reduces the risk of accidents.
8. Masks are not always ideal
Masks can obscure your child’s vision, especially if they don’t fit properly. Look for masks that fit snugly (it has to be comfortable without constantly slipping). The eye holes should be big enough for your little one to see out of, and the mask should also allow for comfortable breathing when worn.
9. Make sure the costume fits
Costumes that are billowing, flimsy, or simply too big for your child will be a tripping hazard. Anything that doesn’t fit snugly could also get caught up in Halloween candles.
10. Remember the shoes!
Your child will need shoes that have a proper grip to them so that they don’t slip and fall while they run around on Halloween. Their shoes should also fit properly so that they don’t end up with blisters and achy feet.
For most kids, Halloween is a beloved day during which they have a legitimate excuse to eat all sorts of sweets and wear fancy costumes that express their personality. While they focus on the fun and spookiness of the holiday, it falls upon you to ensure that their costumes are safe to wear.