Fire service warning on Chinese lanterns

CHINESE Lanterns, which have been blamed for reports of unusual lights in the sky over North Devon in recent months, are now causing concern for the emergency services. Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service has issued special advice to those who may

CHINESE Lanterns, which have been blamed for reports of unusual lights in the sky over North Devon in recent months, are now causing concern for the emergency services.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service has issued special advice to those who may be using them for celebrations and special events.

The popular lanterns are often seen as a gentler alternative to fireworks, but the potential fire risk is high, it warns.

A statement from the service says: "The lanterns, when lit, will rise for up to 20 minutes and can ascend to over a mile in the sky, where they will still be visible on a clear night until they disintegrate. There is a growing concern of the use of these lanterns, particularity among farmers, when they are ignited near open fields full of standing dry crops and woodland, as well as being a hazard in residential areas and along the coastline.


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"In a recent incident a major emergency search operation was called off after a paraglider in distress turned out to be a paper lantern. In this instance the police, fire, a search and rescue team, the coastguards and the RAF were all involved.

"The Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service want you to have a safe event and by following some do's and don'ts the hazards from using Chinese Lanterns can be greatly reduced."

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If a lantern does start a fire there is the possibility that the user could be held responsible.

The safety advice is:

* Only use in calm conditions.

* Only use in open spaces and not near to buildings.

* Not suitable for use by children under 16.

* Never use near airports, under flight paths, near pylons or overhead cables.

* If releasing on the coast, please notify your local coast guard.

* Do not use near anything that may catch fire, such as dry crops or woodland.

* Keep a fire extinguisher or bucket of water nearby.

* This product is not a toy and should not be used by children.

* Do not tie anything or add any weight at all to the lantern.

* Do not use if you are under the influence of alcohol.

Launching Instructions:

* Check the direction of any wind before release to avoid the lantern blowing into any obstacles.

* Hold the bamboo ring at the base of the lantern and gently swing to fill the lantern with air

* Hold the top of the filled lantern and get an assistant to light the corners of the wax "fuel cell"

* Continue to hold the lantern at the top as it fills with hot air and when it becomes self supporting, transfer your hold to the bamboo ring at the base

* When the lantern starts lifting on it's own, release and enjoy

Anyone wishing further safety advice should contact the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service Helpline on (01392) 872288 or visit the website www.dvfire.gov.uk

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