Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service is again warning people about the potential dangers of using Chinese flying lanterns, especially after the recent spell of hot, dry weather.
Flying lanterns, which are also known as “wish lanterns”, are often used to celebrate special occasions – but they can carry a significant risk to property if not used properly. The lanterns are generally made from paper, supported by a wire frame that incorporates a holder at the base for a solid fuel heat source.
Crew Manager Adam Martin, from the Rural Safety Team, explained: "If you are using these lanterns, you can’t control the actual direction they take or where they will land. There is no guarantee that the fuel source will be fully extinguished and cooled when the lantern eventually descends, and that presents a real fire hazard. In addition, not all lanterns are made of fire retardant paper, which can cause the outer skin to ignite easily if handled incorrectly. With the recent dry weather, many farmers are very concerned about the risks to their crops should these lanterns land on their property. We know of one farm where 10 such lanterns landed in just a few days, fortunately without causing any damage."
Locations that should be considered unsuitable for flying lanterns include areas with standing crops, anywhere near buildings with thatched roofs, areas of dense woodland and areas of heath or bracken, especially in dry conditions. Consideration should also be given to the proximity to major roads or airfields.
An advice sheet on the use of Chinese Flying Lanterns is available at www.wiltsfire.gov.uk
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