Whilst sky lanterns are a popular and beautiful sight, the potential damage they can cause is significant.
They use the heat of a naked flame to float. They’re not only a fire hazard but also a danger to livestock, agriculture, camping activities, thatched properties and hazardous material sites.
Whilst lighting and launch are mostly in the control of the user, the actual flight path and end destination are not. There’s no guarantee that the fuel cell will be completely out and cooled when the lantern eventually lands, and any contact with a flammable surface could result in a fire.
There is evidence of them causing fires, being mistaken for distress flares resulting in the taskings of Coastguard Rescue Teams, misleading aircrafts and killing livestock.
If you do insist on setting off flying lanterns, please consider the following which details areas that should be avoided:
- Areas with standing crops
- Buildings with thatched roofs
- Areas of dense woodland
- Areas of heath or bracken, especially in dry weather
Below is a list that must be observed in order to use flying lanterns safely and responsibly:
- Lanterns should be used by responsible adults only
- Adults should not be under the influence of alcohol or any substance that could affect their level of responsibility
- Have water or other extinguishing facilities available at the launch site - lanterns or clothing may ignite if the correct launch procedures are not followed
- Keep the launch area clear of combustible materials
- Children and other observers should maintain a safe distance upwind of the launch area
- Two adults are required to correctly launch each lantern
- Do not attempt to launch damaged lanterns. Be aware that writing messages on the paper can cause damage
- Do not smoke whilst handling lanterns
- Launch Conditions and Area
- Ensure sufficient clearance to avoid obstacles such as trees, power lines or buildings
- Avoid launching near roads, especially major roads or motorways
- Avoid standing crops, especially in dry conditions
- Avoid areas that may allow confusion with distress signals
- Do not launch within 5 miles of any airport
- Do not launch in wind speeds in excess of 5 mph
- Check wind direction before launch
Guidance is for consideration in addition to individual product instruction
- Unpack and assemble the components carefully to avoid damage
- Remove packaging waste from the area
- Gently pull the centre of the lantern up and start to inflate it by “dropping” to allow the air pressure to inflate. Take care not to damage the paper.
- Hold the lantern upright and ask the second person to carefully light the fuel cell
- Support the lantern gently as it inflates fully, it will eventually feel lighter and start to rise
- Do not attempt to throw the lantern skyward, allow it to rise with support only
Do not tether the lantern as this may cause instability which could lead to the lantern igniting.
Call 999 if a lit lantern is observed landing near any property or woodland.