Advice Column: Halloween

Thursday 19th October 2023

As part of the Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo weekly advice column we focus Halloween costumes

 Halloween is coming up and my children are keen to dress up for trick-or-treat. I’ve read about accidents involving costumes catching fire and I’m worried about buying an outfit that could be highly flammable. I don’t want to spoil their fun but I do want to make sure everyone is safe. How can I check if the costumes would be safe for my children to wear?

It’s not easy being the ‘safety police’ when everyone just wants to have fun – especially when that fun includes extravagant costumes. Children should always be kept away from naked flames, but Halloween costumes come with their own set of risks for which extra safety precautions are needed.

They’re not always subject to the same fire safety checks as normal clothing as they can often be classed as toys. With Halloween being a time where lots of lit candles in pumpkins are on the same doorsteps that trick-or-treaters congregate on. As you rightly point out there have sadly been accidents associated with dressing-up outfits and so checking the garment complies with UK/EU safety standards should be a top priority.

No one wants an unexpected horror story at Halloween so it’s always best to know what you’re looking for when buying any costume to make sure the risks are limited as much as they can be:

  • Always buy your Halloween costumes from reputable shops and online retailers. If you haven’t bought anything from the shop before make sure you check online reviews.
  • Make sure the costume comes with safety instructions, a UKCA or CE marking and the manufacturer’s name. The UKCA marking is the post-Brexit British equivalent of the CE mark which is also still valid.
  • Check for any product recalls online — searching for ‘product safety recalls’ will bring up the Office for Product Safety and Standards list.

And while you might like to let your creative streak run wild and attempt to make your own bespoke costume, it’s worth keeping in mind that homemade fancy dress costumes may also come with risks, especially if you use fabrics or decorations not designed to be worn.

If you’d like more advice, or to report something to Trading Standards, contact Citizens Advice consumer service by phone or online.

The information contained in these articles does not constitute advice. Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo accept no liability for the information published. Citizens Advice Exeter is unable to respond to individual requests for advice through these columns. Copyright Citizens Advice. For the most up-to-date version, please visit