Chinese lanterns

Avon Fire & Rescue Service does not endorse the use of Chinese sky lanterns and would strongly discourage their use.

The floating lanterns contain a naked flame which represents a significant fire risk to life and property when they come down to earth. Footage from a CCTV camera proved a single lantern was to blame for a fire at a recycling plant in the West Midlands in 2013 which had to be tackled by more than 200 firefighters and 39 fire engines.

Sky lanterns also pose a risk to livestock, with cases of animals being injured or killed from eating the metal parts accidentally chopped into animal feed during harvest, or getting caught in wire frames that have landed in fields.

Lanterns have also been mistaken for distress flares at sea, placing a demand on the resources of HM Coastguard.

If Chinese lanterns are to be used against our advice we would suggest the following precautions.

General advice:

  • Lanterns should be used by responsible adults only.
  • Adults should not be under the influence of alcohol or any substance that could affect their level of responsibility.
  • Water should be on hand in case the lanterns catch fire.
  • The launch area should be kept clear of combustible materials.
  • Damaged lanterns should not be used.

Launch conditions and area:

  • Ensure sufficient clearance to avoid obstacles such as trees, power lines or buildings.
  • Avoid launching near roads, especially major roads or motorways.
  • Avoid standing crops.
  • Do not launch within five miles of an airport.
  • Do not launch in wind speeds in excess of five mph.
  • Check wind direction before launch.