(October 30, 2017)
Fun activities can sometimes come with fire risks. Take this quiz to get smart about clothing fire safety.
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In the U.S., fabric used in clothing is tested to ensure it’s:
The U.S. requires a flammability test that meets 16 C.F.R. Part 1610 as outlined by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The goal is to provide time to remove the clothing or extinguish the flame before serious injury/death. Even though these standards exist, if clothing catches on fire, it can cause severe burns.
The testing conducted on plain surface fabrics requires that adult clothing in the U.S.:
Plain surface fabrics that take 3.5 seconds or longer to burn meet Class 1 designation and pass the test. Plain surface fabrics that burn faster than 3.5 seconds are classified as Class 3 and fail this test.
Raised surface fabrics, like velvet or flannel, used in adult clothing must have a burn time of at least
Because raised surface fabrics burn faster than smooth surface fabrics, Class 1 raised surface fabrics must take 7 seconds or longer to burn. Raised fabrics can earn Class 2 designation if they burn between 4 and 7 seconds, which rates as “intermediate flammability” and can legally be sold in the U.S.
The factors in how fast a fabric will burn include:
All of the above factors play a part in how quickly a fabric will burn.
U.S. CPSC standards don’t apply to gloves, but they do apply to:
16 C.F.R. 1611 specifically addresses vinyl plastic film in clothing, like that used in costume capes and masks. It states that these shall not burn faster than 0.5 seconds - which doesn’t allow much time if they catch on fire.
The U.S. has more stringent standards for:
Per 16 C.F.R 1615/1616, children’s sleepwear sizes 0 to 14 must either burn more slowly to meet specific testing guidelines or it must be “snug-fitting” per specific CPSC definitions. Snug-fitting clothing items will bear a yellow label that says, “For child’s safety, garment should fit snugly. This garment is not flame resistant.”
Children’s sleepwear has stronger requirements because most burns to children occur:
Most burns occur when children are awake, unsupervised and wearing sleepwear and come into contact with stoves, candles or matches. According to the NFPA, children cause an average of 49,300 fires a year while playing with fire.
Safety tips for kids and candles include:
The National Fire Safety Protection Association recommends all of these tips and provides downloadable PDFs for more tips for both Halloween safety and candle safety.
For adults, most clothing-related burns occur when:
Loose-fitting clothing that comes into contact with an open flame is the most common, although heating sources also can cause clothing to burn, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
When used to describe fabric flammability, the terms “flammable” and “inflammable” mean the same thing.
“Flammable, combustible, inflammable” all mean they will burn readily, explains the North Central Regional Extension Office of the U.S. Many of our clothing items fit this definition. “Fireproof, non-combustible and non-flammable” mean the fabric will not burn. “Fire resistant, fire retardant, flame resistant and flame retardant” all mean the garment may ignite more slowly or self-extinguish when removed from a flame.
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