Firefighters and farmers give Chinese Lanterns warning

DEVON and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service has joined with the National Farmers Union to remind people of the risks in the use of Chinese Lanterns, in particular to farmers crops and cattle. The lanterns, which have become popular for celebrating wedding

DEVON and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service has joined with the National Farmers Union to remind people of the risks in the use of Chinese Lanterns, in particular to farmers' crops and cattle.

The lanterns, which have become popular for celebrating weddings, birthdays and other special events, are usually constructed of paper stretched over a wire frame, similar to a spherical paper lampshade. They contain a wax candle that enables the lantern to fly for up to 20 minutes. They can ascend to over a mile in the sky and will still be visible on a clear night until they disintegrate.

The fire service warns that research has shown that in some cases embers from the fuel cell can continue to glow for several minutes after the flames have gone out. There is also the real possibility that hot, glowing embers can fall from the lantern as it flies and could land on people or animals. This means they have the potential to start a fire even in normal use. There is also the danger of fire starting due to improper use.

There are particular areas of concern among farmers when these lanterns are ignited near open fields full of standing dry crops, woodland, moorland, and barns, as well as being a potential hazard for starting a fire in residential areas, especially properties with thatched roofs.


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The NFU has also received reports of harm to livestock, and in some instances death, caused by cattle ingesting the metal wires contained within the lantern frames.

NFU acting director of communications Terry Jones said: "We have given manufacturers, as well as suppliers, time to take on board our concerns over the sale of these lanterns and move to a safer and more environmentally friendly solution. While we have seen some movement by manufacturers and suppliers to biodegradable eco-lanterns, NFU Council members felt that the moves were too little, too late. The overwhelming majority of them felt that the UK should follow the example set by other countries and ban them outright, thereby ending any possible future harm to livestock, wildlife and the environment.

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