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Children's Clothes and Fire Safety

By: Denise Tyler - Updated: 15 Jul 2019 | comments*Discuss
Flammability Flammable Clothes Fire

Everyone loves an open fire and romantic candles are second to none for creating an atmosphere. Fire also plays an important role in everyday life, with gas hobs and ovens to light. Smokers also have ready access to matches and lighters.

Sadly, though, this means that children can also gain access to these things quite easily, perhaps without the due care and attention you'd like them to have.

Flammable Dangers

There are about 750 clothing flammability accidents each year of which about 80 are fatal. Young girls, especially teenage girls aged 12-17 are the highest risk groups for severe injuries, along with the elderly, which can involve long stays in hospital and plastic surgery.

Why would this be? Unfortunately, loose fitting, floaty garments like dresses, nightdresses and dressing gowns are susceptible to catching fire, and if they don't come up to safety standards, quickly melt while they burn. And that's not just open fires - electric and gas fires are just as much to blame.

In addition, boys aged 14-17 are especially prone to minor accidents, usually due to playing with matches, lighters and outside fires.

What Safety Marks can I Look for on Clothes?

As children's clothing has been identified as a high-risk area, nightwear for children under 13 must meet specific flammability and clothing label requirements:
  • Manufactures of pyjamas, baby's garments and cotton terry towelling bathrobes, who choose to meet the flammability requirements of the Nightwear (Safety) Regulations 1985, must include a label with the wording 'LOW FLAMMABILITY TO BS 5722' or 'KEEP AWAY FROM FIRE'.
  • Pyjamas, baby's garments and cotton terry towelling bathrobes which are not flame resistant must include a label with the wording 'KEEP AWAY FROM FIRE'
  • Please note, however, that a label, which reads 'LOW FLAMMABILITY' does not indicate a completely flameproof garment, so all clothing should be kept away from fire.
  • You should follow the washing instructions on flame-resistant garments, which include not washing them at more than 50°C and checking the suitability of your washing agent as this may affect the flame resistance of the fabric.

What can I do if the Worse Happens?

One reason for the increased proportion of severe of accidents among children is that they are prone to panic rather than attempting to put the flames out. Instead they scream for help, and continue to burn until an adult comes to extinguish the fire.

Stop, Wrap, Drop and Roll

Fire services and police throughout the country recommend the 'STOP, WRAP, DROP AND ROLL' rule if they ever find themselves in the situation where they have to help someone whose clothing has caught fire - even themselves:

STOP - means don't panic and run about, as it will make the fire worse
WRAP - the victim in a rug, coat or blanket
DROP - to the floor, and...
ROLL - until the flames are extinguished

Then, straightaway, pour cold water over the burn for at least 10 minutes but don't remove any clothing. You can remove any tight belts or jewellery that the injured person is wearing as burned skin tends to swell. Cover the burned area with a clean, smooth cloth or cling-film to keep out infection until it can be properly dressed. For more information, read our article on First Aid For Burns.

Unless it's a very small burn, take the injured person to hospital or dial 999, especially if they lose consciousness. Lastly, don't give the person anything to eat or drink in case they need a general anaesthetic at the hospital.


Have you got a Smoke Alarm?
Have you got a fire extinguisher?
Does your family know What To Do In Case Of Fire?

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one day i got home from work at my daughters babysitter was looking after her or was suposed to be looking after her and the babysitter lit a candle and she went into the kitchen a few minutes later she heard my daughter scream and she ra into the living room and my daugher's clothes caught fire so she poured water over her and she called an ambulence so i got home and i saw an ambulence outside of my house and i went inside and i saw that my daughter was drenched so i asked the babysitter what has she done so she told me that my daughters dress caought fire and my daughter was in hospital for a week luckily my daughter is alright
Been annoyed - 15-Jul-19 @ 12:57 PM
Hi, i'm just wondering would you have any information on children's clothing and the safety legislation that you could email me.
Jacqui - 26-Feb-19 @ 11:40 AM
Chemicals in flame retardants are far more likely to damage your child than an open flame. Research.
Lisa - 7-Aug-17 @ 8:29 PM
My daughter was very badly burned on Christmas Day 2015 after her dress caught fire from a flame spark - she spent several weeks in hospital and until this time I was completely unaware that children's clothes have little or no fire resistance. I am keen to start campaigning for change and am beginning to realise this is going to be a very long slow process. Is anyone able to help me find out exactly what the fire testing regulations are for children's clothes as I am having some difficulty on getting clarity, I have spoken to the fire investigation office in my area and also the children's burns trust but both have limited knowledge. I have tried to search but only find information on nightwear. Thanks
Nicksy76 - 20-Feb-17 @ 4:40 PM
@Annoyed -It's not something I usually think about, but recently my son had a run in with a gas cooker flame and his sleeve. Thankfully, nothing untoward happened - but I didn't realise how many clothes aren't marked and I am having to check all label now and there aren't many thay are fire resistant. You should start a petition!
Debs72 - 11-Nov-16 @ 2:08 PM
I am disgusted that the law (or lack of it) still allows retailers to sell basic death traps for children under the guise of night clothes. It seems that retailers have no obligation to ensure that children's clothing is fire retardant. At Christmas we are more likely to burn candles especially with children in the house celebrating the arrival of Santa. Is it acceptable that 80 of our offspring have to die each year in the cause of apathy?We have nine grandchildren and intended to buy them all onesies but found that to be an impossible task as all were marked " keep away from flames" , needless to say we were not risking it. We tried Asda, Marks and Spencer,Debenhams and many others. We should boycott all retailers who do not take our childrens safety to heart. The only way to force a change is to refuse to buy such rubbish. Comments please.
Annoyed - 10-Nov-16 @ 9:38 PM
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