East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service logo
East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service logo

Clothing and materials

We know that some fabrics burn much more quickly. We also know it isn’t easy for  people to check whether their clothes or bedding will catch light easily. There are no regulations – other than for children’s nightwear – for clothing to be labelled.

This is of concern due to a number of fire deaths where people have  accidentally set themselves or bedding alight - 13 cases between 2010 and May 2015.

We are now working to raise awareness of this issue.

In November 2014, an elderly man suffered burns and later died after accidentally setting his clothing alight when he attempted to smoke a cigarette.   We have the support of local Coroner Alan Craze who – at the inquest in May 2015 - said he was sufficiently concerned to write a “prevention of future deaths” letter. This was sent to the appropriate minister in Government highlighting the circumstances of this case and asking them to consider the issues raised.

We have also raised concerns about the fire risks of children's fancy dress outfits. Parents are warned that the clothes should be treated as high risk, particularly around open flames which might be found at birthday parties, Halloween or barbeques.

If clothes catch fire

What should you do?

Don’t run around as you will only fan the flames and make them burn faster 

Lie Down: 

  • This makes it harder for the fire to spread

  • It will reduce the effects of flames on the head and face (flames burn upward) 

Smother the flames: 

  • Cover the flames with a heavy material, like a coat or blanket

  • This will block the supply of oxygen to the fire 

Roll around: 

  • Rolling smothers the flames 

What treatment should I give for burns? 

  • Cool the burn with cold running water for a minimum of 20 minutes

  • Remove all jewellery from burnt areas

  • Remove all clothing that can be removed from the affected area

  • Lay Clingfilm over a burn, or a dry sterile covering

  • Call 999 for an ambulance

  • Keep the casualty warm, as they will chill very quickly

  • Treat for shock

Fancy dress on fire
Clothes Labels

Watch our tests to see how quickly fabrics can burn

Latest Update :
31 October 2017
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