Get spooked safely this Halloween

As parents, schools and businesses prepare for the season of things that go bump in the night, AXA Insurance has some timely advice on ensuring the safety of your guests (wanted or unwanted) while enjoying the magic.

19 October 2018

Posted in Product

  • AXA offers guidance on keeping your children and guests safe this Halloween, highlighting recent cases involving face paints
  • Parents and retailers urged to exercise extra vigilance as flammable costumes remain on sale

A variety of face paints are sold at this time of the year, most entirely safe and great fun to use. The insurer warns, however, that parents and retailers should exercise extra caution when purchasing them. Cases have arisen of consumers suffering severe chemical burns after using paints which contain toxic substances outlawed for use in cosmetics.

Some simple precautions when choosing and applying paints are:

  1. Choose non-allergenic, water-based paints as the safest option.
  2. Check labels carefully for a reputable supplier name and an EU address. Paints produced within the EU must follow strict guidelines on permitted ingredients.
  3. Do a skin patch test ahead of use, particularly if someone has previously suffered allergic reactions to soaps, cosmetics or foods. In any case, face paints should not be used near open cuts, irritated skin or close to the mouth and eye areas.

Finding out if guests have any allergies is also important at this time of year, when sweets and treats are widely offered. Children are not always well-versed in potential allergens – so it’s always a good idea to double-check with their parents before offering food and drink.

Meanwhile, the labelling to look out for when buying costumes is ‘CE marking (EN71-2)’. This offers some assurance that the item has been tested for flammability. Costumes are still classified as ‘toys’ rather than clothing under the law, however, which means that many unsafe costumes are still being sold openly in the UK. Parents are advised to remain vigilant.

And if you’re also planning a party, consider decorating your home or venue with LED lights, glow sticks or providing flashlights rather than naked flames. Even when children are warned of the danger of open flames, they can always bump into things or forget amidst all the excitement.

It’s also a good time to practice ‘stop, drop, roll’ with children in case a costume does catch fire. This means stopping immediately, dropping to the ground, covering their face and rolling over and over.

Extra guidance for retailers

Manufacturers carry the heaviest responsibility when things go wrong with a product, but retailers can also be held to account. As Government guidance puts it: “You must not sell any product which you know, or should know, is unsafe”.

Make sure you know who the manufacturers of your goods are, record or keep a log of where you get your stock from (including shipment numbers and batch numbers), and provide customers with any information supplied by the manufacturer.

It’s also important to pass any concerns or complaints on to your local Trading Standards Office.

“Halloween has gained a lot of commercial momentum, and the amount and variety of Halloween consumer goods has grown rapidly in recent years. Not all of these items are fully legislated for as yet (particularly when it comes to flammable materials), so parents and retailers need to stay extra vigilant when buying. There’s no reason not to have a good party – but take five when you’re planning and buying, so you have potential hazards covered off.”

Gareth Howell, Executive Managing Director, AXA Insurance