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.
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.