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Chinese lanterns: new guidance issued

A year ago, we wrote about a huge fire at a West Midlands’ recycling plant which was thought to have been started by a rogue Chinese lantern. It caused damage totalling £6 million and put three firefighters in hospital. Five months later, 50 caravans near Tewkesbury were damaged by a fire, also believed to have been caused by a Chinese lantern.

As a result, new guidance has been issued by the Trading Standards Institute on their use. It’s a highly-detailed seven-page document which looks at design and manufacture; safety checks; warnings and instructions for use; and responsible sale.

The guidance also includes the advice that anyone selling them should warn that they are only to be launched by adults and that they should not be under the influence of alcohol, which is perhaps asking the impossible.

Having read it – and it’s pretty scary – then, frankly, there are so many potential dangers that I think I’d rather stick to helium balloons.

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