London Fire Brigade

Brigade backs Strictly star’s candle warning after Halloween horror

14 May 2015

London Fire Brigade is backing Claudia Winkleman’s call for people to take care around candles after the Strictly star spoke for the first time about the serious burns her daughter suffered in a Halloween costume fire.

Claudia’s eight-year-old daughter was in a witch’s costume when it brushed against a candle and caught fire.

Last  year, there were 82 fire related injuries in London between Halloween and Bonfire Night – a 37 percent increase on the number of injuries recorded in 2012. Candles in particular are one of the biggest causes of fires in the home and should never be left unattended. The Brigade attends around 20 fires a month caused by candles incense and oil burners.

And it isn’t just children in fancy dress that the Brigade believes are vulnerable to fire. In February 2012, a woman suffered burns in a game that involved making ‘wedding dresses’ out of toilet roll, at a hen party in a central London pub. One of the hens, who was wrapped in toilet roll, noticed that some paper on a table had been ignited by a tea light candle.

She leant over to put the fire out and the paper she was wrapped in caught fire. She threw herself to the ground and managed to put the flames out, but sustained burns to her chest and hand in the process.

London Fire Brigade’s Group Manager for Community Safety Mark Hazelton said:

“This was a terrible ordeal for not only Claudia’s daughter  but her family and friends as well. Unfortunately though, accidents like this are not uncommon and this is a shocking reminder that candles and open flames can be lethal if you don’t keep an eye them.

“This is especially true if you are wearing clothing, such as fancy costumes, which often have tassels, capes and other adornments that can trail and easily catch light if they accidentally brush against a flame. That’s why  it’s crucial that candles are placed well away from flammable items and clothing otherwise the results can be catastrophic.

“It is not only children in fancy dress who we are concerned about, we also see a number of incidents where vulnerable adults accidentally set their clothing or bedding alight because they are placed too close to candles, cookers or gas heaters.”

The Brigade’s top three candle safety tips are:

1) Keep candles well away from items that could catch fire like fancy dress costumes
2) Place them on a heat resistant surface, like a ceramic plate
3) Always place candles in a fire resistant container and make sure they are out of the reach of children

London Fire Brigade supports the burns charity RAFT who carry out medical research that helps people regain their quality of life, independence and dignity after major burns trauma.

For more than 25 years their research team has been busy focusing on areas of research that can provide practical and tangible solutions for children and adults that suffer burns.