There was a huge fire recently at a recycling plant in the West Midlands – and it was soon confirmed that this was caused by a Chinese lantern. There have been calls for these to be banned. But this appears unlikely, although individual bans have been imposed, including at the Glastonbury Festival.
And it seems that they don’t just increase the risk of fire: they can also cause other significant problems. The BBC has published a fascinating article on the hazards posed by Chinese lanterns. These include:
- Danger to animals – apparently a cow died in 2010 after eating a piece of a lantern’s wire frame.
- False alarms at sea as lanterns are sometimes mistaken for distress flares.
- Danger to aircraft as there is a chance of lanterns being sucked into engines while airborne.
- UFO claims – including an incident when Scottish villagers called the police after seeing ‘flying saucers’, but these turned out to be lanterns released at a nearby wedding.
In the meantime, R0SPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) has some very sensible guidelines on how to use these safely, which is definitely worth a read.