Fire service warn against using Chinese lanterns

chinese lanternsFOLLOWING social media posts encouraging the release of Chinese lanterns for the weekly Clap For Carers event, Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service is asking people to find safer alternatives to show their support for the NHS.

The Clap For Carers event is held nationally every Thursday at 8pm, when the public are encouraged to applaud NHS staff and other key workers from their doorsteps, gardens, windows and balconies.

This week, posts have been circulating social media suggesting that Chinese lanterns should also be released in tribute to the NHS and those who have lost their lives to coronavirus – but the fire service has warned they are dangerous.

Chinese lanterns, also known as wish or sky lanterns, are generally made from paper, supported by a wire frame that incorporates a holder at the base for a solid fuel heat source. They are both a fire hazard and a danger to wildlife, pets and people.

Whilst lighting and launch are largely in the control of the user, the actual flight path and ultimate destination are not. There is also no guarantee that the fuel cell will be fully extinguished and cooled when the lantern eventually descends, and any subsequent contact with a combustible surface could result in a fire developing.

Area manager Craig Baker said: “With Chinese lanterns, you’re basically throwing a naked flame into the sky with no control over the direction it will take or where it will land – in addition, there is no guarantee that the fuel source will be fully extinguished and cooled when the lantern eventually descends, and that presents a real fire hazard.

“At a time when we are trying to keep our turn-outs to a minimum, to protect our crews from potential exposure to coronavirus, the last thing we need is lots of people launching these lanterns. We would urge everyone to find safer ways of supporting our key workers.”

Last week, the National Fire Chiefs’ Council issued a fresh plea for the public to avoid lighting sky lanterns, describing the recent attempt by companies to market them as a means of showing support for NHS workers as “misguided”.

Their statement can be found at

Further advice on the safe use of Chinese lanterns can be found at

Woodmead Halls

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