It’s no secret that Claudia Winkleman’s daughter Matilda was involved in a tragic accident in November 2014, after a Halloween trick-or-treat trip took an unexpected and dramatic turn.
Matilda, who was 8-years-old at the time, was out with her mother and a group of others when her seasonal witch costume caught fire on a nearby open flame.
After being rushed to hospital she was treated for severe burns. The Strictly Come Dancing star opened up for her very first interview with BBC’s Watchdog, and now that we’re coming up to that time of year, it’s as important as ever to revist Claudia’s message of warning.
Speaking out about the dangers of children’s Halloween costumes, Claudia took the brave decision to relive the experience in an on-screen interview, in the hope that it would stop any other child having to go through the same life-altering accident.
She recalls how they ‘couldn’t put her out’ and, upsettingly, how Matilda’s ‘tights melted into her.’
Claudia was visibly shaken and upset to be talking about the incident, but insisted that she had a very important reason to be doing so: ‘I don’t want another 8 year old to go through what Matilda went through… That is why I’m here.’
She finished: ‘I would like parents, on Halloween, just to think about what they’re going to put their kids in. Because I didn’t. And it cost us.’
One of the most shocking revelations was that Halloween costumes are registered as toys, which has an impact on their safety testing. Claudia hit out: ‘It’s not a toy because you were it next to bare skin because if she’d have been holding a broomstick, let’s say, which is a toy, we could have chucked that, but we couldn’t put her out fast enough.’
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A Channel Mum survey of 2,000 mums showed that three quarters wanted more stringent laws in order to make sure that all kid’s fancy dress outfits are flame retardant.
According to the Huffington Post, many high street stores are working towards it themselves, with Sainsbury’s promising that their children’s dress up range will meet the same strict fire safety standards that apply to nightwear, and both Tesco and Asda have said they will be applying more rigorous testing.
Just last month, the government agreed to crackdown on the safety of children’s costumes. Claudia told the Mail Online: ‘We’re extremely happy the government are taking action on this and we’re so grateful to the supermarkets who are selling safer costumes.’
In the meantime, Paul Hancock of the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service told The Sun: ‘As Halloween and Bonfire Night get closer, I would urge parents to be extra vigilant and to make sure if youngsters are wearing fancy dress clothing they are nowhere near naked flames.’