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   Clothing Fires: Introduction





The UK has stringent nightwear fire safety laws but it's important that the public remains fully aware of the precautions to take when purchasing and wearing nightwear. 


This information provides background on a number of issues including people most at risk and why; clothes which pose particular risks; sources of ignition; current legislation; accident prevention and current research into flame retardant textiles.

Who is most at risk and why?

Children and the elderly are at the greatest risk from nightwear fires, and females are more than twice as likely as males to suffer. The reason for the high number of women and girls suffering burns varies according to age but is most commonly due to the type of nightwear they can wear such as flimsy, free-flowing, nightdresses that can more easily catch light and spread flame more quickly than with tighter-fitting garments.

Ignition sources

The most frequent sources of ignition for clothing fires are: cookers, particularly open flame gas cookers and hobs, gas fires, open fires, matches, cigarette lighters and candles.

Current legislation

The General Product Safety Regulations 2005 place a general overall safety requirement on all clothing and, for nightwear, there are specific national regulations.


The Nightwear (Safety) Regulations 1985 require  children’s night-dresses, dressing gowns, bath robes and other similar garments to satisfy flammability performance requirements as specified in British Standard 5722. These requirements are expressed as a rate of flame spread and involve following strict testing procedures. Items such as children's pyjamas, babies' garments and adult nightwear do not have to meet these requirements but must carry the specified label according to whether they do or do not. The precise wording of the warning label is specified in the regulations, including the type, colour and size of lettering, along with options for positioning.


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, i.e. 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 50o C and checking the suitability of your washing agent.


Advertisements for nightwear in newspapers, magazines, catalogues etc, which contain any direct ordering facility, must include information about the garments' flammability performance.


The Nightwear (Safety) Regulations 1985 are enforced by Trading Standards. Anyone who fails to comply with the Regulations is liable to imprisonment, a fine or both.

Safety advice

Keep lighters and matches well away from your clothing and the same goes for candles.

Fire services and police throughout the country have schemes for school-aged children which, besides informing them about general prevention and fire escape routes, also teaches the 'STOP, 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 – this will make the fire worse

DROP – to the floor and

ROLL - until the flames are extinguished

First aid tips for dealing with burns include:

• Keep calm.

• Immediately run cold water over the burn and then for at least ten minutes.

• Burned skin can swell so take off any tight belts or jewellery but do not remove any burned clothing stuck to the skin.

• Cover the burned area with a clean, smooth cloth (like a pillowcase) or cling film, to keep out infection until it can be properly dressed.

• Unless the burn is very small, go to hospital. If the burn is serious, or the person is (or was) unconscious, dial 999.

• A seriously burned person should not eat or drink after the accident, in case there is a need for anaesthetic at hospital.


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Last updated: 03 November 2005