Is Your Child's Halloween Costume As Safe As You Think?

When parents start to worry about their kids and Halloween, their concerns often have more to do with how safe the candy is and less about exactly what material their costumes are made of.

Even if your home doesn't use candles for your jack-o'-lanterns and your kids know to stay away from open flames, there's still a huge risk when children are running from door to door clad in long capes, flowing fabrics, and princess dresses. What many don't realize is that the fabric used for these costumes, especially the ones that are store-bought, can also be extremely flammable and put your child at risk.

Just because all clothing and costumes need to pass the legal standard for clothing flammability, CFR 1610, doesn't mean that they are safe for your child to wear. It's important for moms and dads to understand that the federal flammability standard doesn't mean that a fabric is flame resistant — it just looks at how fast a flame spreads. The minimum speed is 3.5 seconds and this also doesn't consider the size of these flames.

The Good Housekeeping Institute tested multiple children's costume fabric swatches and the results were beyond surprising. While some completely failed the test and are still being sold, like the Barbie Royal Party Princess costume that they observed go up in flames in less than the 3.5-second minimum, other popular costumes passed but still spread fire at alarming rates.

Two different versions of Elsa costumes from Disney's Frozen caught fire particularly fast. Meanwhile, a Frozen Anna, Disney Snow White, Sparkle Witch, and Soul Taker either didn't ignite at all or self-extinguished.

So what should parents know before buying their kids' Halloween costumes?

They should seek out fabrics that are made of 100 percent synthetic fibers, including nylon or polyester, and try to avoid sparkling, glittery materials as well as anything made from natural fibers. To minimize the risk of contact with candles, they should make sure the costumes are the right size, fit snugly, and do not drag.