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Safety defects in children’s fancy dresses

27.4.2017 9.00
Press release

At this time of the year, shops are offering an abundance of fancy dresses for the May Day parties, and many parents buy them for their children. According to tests commissioned by the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes), there are safety defects in some of the fancy dresses sold in shops. Parents can themselves improve the safety of their children who wear fancy dresses.

Tukes commissioned tests on ten fancy dresses for children, covering their flammability and the safety of any strings and drawstrings. The tests revealed various safety defects in several products.

The products examined were acquired from Finnish shops and online stores. Five of the products passed the tests without any problems, whereas the other five products contained various types of defects.

Most of the safety defects discovered in the fancy dresses were minor, such as defective labels. Some of the products had more serious defects, such as too rapid combustion of the material as well as strings and drawstrings in the neck area, which pose a risk for strangulation.

”We are still working on the cases involving more serious defects, but normally such products are withdrawn from shops and, where necessary, from consumers. As regards products with less serious defects, the suppliers have been advised to rectify the defects so that the products will meet the safety requirements,” says Senior Officer Henna Ekman.

Parents can take precautions to prevent accidents

Children’s fancy dresses should be made of fire-safe materials, but there are clearly products on the market that do not meet this requirement. However, it is difficult to visually evaluate the flammability of materials in fancy dresses.

When children are fully engaged in their play, the long hem or cape can accidentally catch fire from a flame. If the material burns quickly, this can cause serious burns to the child.

”Fancy dresses and open fire always pose a risk. Parents should warn children about open fire and supervise them while playing in the vicinity of candles or other open fire sources. Outdoor candles are equally dangerous as indoor candles,” Ekman points out.

Manufacturer’s responsibility for product safety

Products sold in the EU area must not pose hazards to consumers. If a product is found to be unsafe, the economic operator must take the necessary measures and report the matter to the supervisory authorities.

”Economic operators have primary responsibility for the safety of products that they manufacture, market and sell. This applies to both manufacturers, importers and sellers in the various stages of supply,” says Ekman.

Economic operators can promote product safety through continuous quality assurance and product development efforts and by subjecting their products to safety tests.

Things to remember when buying a fancy dress for your child:

  • Check the age recommendation on the package. A dress intended for an older child may be dangerous for a younger child. For example, a product intended for children under three years of age must not contain decorations that may come off so that the child can swallow them or face the risk of suffocation.
  • Check that the fancy dress or package has a CE marking. With the CE marking, the manufacturer guarantees that the fancy dress meets the toy safety requirements of the European Union.
  • Read the warnings on the package. The package may include the text ”Keep away from open fire”, for example. This means that the material may catch fire if it comes into contact with a flame. However, despite the warning, the material must not burn too quickly.
  • Read the use and care instructions. The instructions should be clear and available in both Finnish and Swedish.
  • Check any strings and drawstrings in the head and neck area. Clothes intended for children who are seven years old or younger must not have any strings or drawstrings in the head and neck area. If they get stuck on something, they may pose a risk of strangulation.

Further information:
Senior Officer Henna Ekman
Tel. +358 29 5052 010,
e-mail: [email protected]