Many of us have bought clothes for our baby without being aware of the risks associated with children’s sleep clothes. They’re low fire danger baby clothes, but what does that mean? A cute little pyjama set spotted, a great price, thrown straight into the trolley. You could say that in some cases, we’ve had a lucky escape.
There have been plenty of dodgy kids pyjamas on the market without high fire danger labels, thanks to small sized imports avoiding a security check. When tested by NSW Fair Trading, the dodgy synthetic pyjamas ignited and burnt in seconds when placed near a heater, melting the fabric. Who knows how many more of these are on the market.
Children’s sleepwear has two major risk factors to consider – fibre and the shape/fit of the garment. Certain fibres are more dangerous than others when they are exposed to a flame which we go on to explain further. The shape or fit of sleepwear is also a significant aspect to consider when purchasing children’s pyjamas. If they are loose-fitting and have excess fabric, this increases the risk of the fabric catching alight when near a flame. Fitted garments, on the other hand, have more negligible risk. These two risk factors contributed to the type of hazard label a garment requires.
Clothing Labelling Requirements in Australia
Children’s sleepwear MUST have a fire hazard label, and if they don’t, avoid them at all costs.
There are four categories of fire hazard labels which you can see at Product Safety Australia. All Hello Night Merino Wool garments fall within Category 1 and have a white low fire hazard label to conform to clothing label requirements under the Australian Clothing Standards – Consumer Protection (Children’s Nightwear and limited daywear and Paper Patterns for Children’s Nightwear) Safety Standard 2017.
Category 1 is the safest group. We are classed Category 1 because our products are made of Merino wool, a fibre with low flammability and our sleepwear designs are fitted, not loose.
NSW Fair Trading strongly advises that parents do not purchase children’s sleepwear made with synthetic fibres. Instead, they recommend buying garments made from natural materials like wool because of the much lower fire risk.
It’s confronting to know how risky some fabrics are. Once you know, you’ll start shopping for low fire danger pyjamas and clothes instead!
What is Flammable Clothing Material?
Sure, all fibres can catch fire given the right environment, but it’s interesting to note the level of flammability for each fibre and the point at which they melt; there are clear differences.
- Cotton ignites at 255°C
- Polyester melts at 252–292°C
- Nylon melts at 160–260°C
- Wool ignites at 570–600°C but never melts, so it can’t stick to the skin
Here is an explanation for common sleepwear fibres to put these temperatures into perspective.
Why wool is the safest option for your child’s sleepwear
Wool’s natural flame resistance is thanks to its chemical structure.
Unlike other fibres that can keep themselves burning, wool can easily self-extinguish thanks to its high nitrogen and water content and the fact that it needs high oxygen levels to sustain any fire. Even if it subjected to a powerful heat source, it usually smoulders instead of producing a flame. It’s the membrane structure in the wool fibre that expands when exposed to heat. The membrane then forms a layer of insulation that stops the spread of flames.
If wool clothing is set alight, wool doesn’t melt, drip or stick to the skin, reducing burns. This is why wool is given a low fire danger label and why wool is the chosen fibre used in military and first responder personnel clothing and even protective fire blankets. On the other hand, synthetic fibres like nylon and polyester are slow to ignite, but they quickly melt on the skin.
There is no safe clothing around fires and heaters, so it pays to take extra care. But that shouldn’t stop you and your family from enjoying time around the fire this winter, nor does it mean that you should throw away your heater. Adding safeguards and ensuring your children wear firm fitting, low fire danger sleepwear such as Merino pyjamas and layers will keep your children safe and allow everyone to enjoy snuggling up.