Warnings about sky lantern fire risk

Sky lantern

Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) is urging people not to use sky lanterns to mark celebrations.

Not only are the lanterns often used in Chinese New Year celebrations, but they have become a common sight at many other events ranging from weddings to funerals.

However, NFRS advises against their use as in the last 10 years, firefighters have attended 29 incidents relating to sky lanterns in this county.

These incidents have ranged from fires affecting trees to blazes involving roofs, drains and guttering.

Nationally, there have been well publicised incidents of the devastation which can be caused when a lantern leads to fires.

Prevention team leader Tina Collett said: “Sky lanterns may seem like harmless fun, but they can pose a serious fire risk.

“Effectively, what people are doing is sending lit objects into the air with no ability to direct their travel or ensure they land in a safe position.

“We would urge people to reconsider using these lanterns and to spare a thought not only for wildlife, which the lanterns can harm, but also anyone who may have property which could be at risk of being set alight.”

One of the main dangers posed by sky lanterns is the fire risk caused by the issue of not being certain where a lantern will land. They are known to pose particular risks to crops, vehicles, livestock and the environment.

NFRS would urge people not to use sky lanterns at all, but have issued the following advice to ensure the safest use possible:

  • Keep the launch area clear of flammable materials
  • Keep children and other observers a safe distance upwind of the launch
  • Do not attempt to launch damaged lanterns
  • Do not smoke or drink while handling lanterns
  • Ensure enough clearance to avoid obstacles such as trees, power lines or buildings.
  • Avoid crops
  • Do not launch within five miles of any airport
  • Do not launch in wind speeds in excess of five mph
  • Check wind direction before launch
  • Be aware of any other local conditions that could affect launch or landing safety, such as thatched buildings, crops or dry heathland
  • Do not tie anything to the lantern as this may cause instability which could lead to the lantern igniting
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