FIRE chiefs in Cleveland are urging people to take extra care and think about the possible consequences before letting off Sky (Chinese) Lanterns. A Sky Lantern is similar to a hot air balloon in that once ignited it rises into the sky.
The appeal from Phil Lancaster, Cleveland Fire Brigade’s Director of Community Protection comes at a time when Sky Lanterns may be used to celebrate festivals and events and firefighters are taking industrial action on Friday 1 November between 6.30pm and 11.00pm and then on Monday 4 November between 6.00am and 8.00am.
This summer saw a massive fire started by a Sky Lantern at a factory in the West Midlands. More than 200 firefighters fought the blaze at the Jayplus depot in Smethwick which involved 100,000 tonnes of plastic material. The estimated cost of the damage is £6m.
Phil Lancaster said: “The huge fire at Smethwick in the West Midlands is a reminder to us all of the devastation that can be caused by a sky lantern.
“We do not recommend the use of sky lanterns at all, although they are traditionally used to celebrate joyful occasions or to remember lost ones, people who set them off need to be aware they could be creating significant misery and distress to others. They pose a risk to lives, property, crops, livestock and the environment.
“I appeal to the people of Cleveland to think about the potential consequences of igniting a sky lantern and they celebrate occasions and remember lost ones in a way to ensure that everyone stays safe.”
If people decide to ignore the Brigade’s advice and release a Sky Lantern, they should follow our safety advice below:
- Lanterns must be used by responsible adults only
- Water should always be on hand in case the lanterns catch fire
- The launch area needs to be kept clear of combustible materials
- Damaged lanterns must not be used
- Ensure sufficient clearance to avoid obstacles such as trees, powerlines or buildings
- Do not launch near roads, especially major roads or motorways
- Do not launch within five miles of an airport
- Do not launch in wind speeds in excess of five miles per hour (mph)
- Do not smoke whilst handling lanterns
Mr Lancaster added: “The fire and rescue service will continue to lobby the Government to introduce legislation to ban sky lanterns. Once they are lit and travel into the sky, no-one has any control over where and when they will land. The sooner they are banned, the better.”
Find out more about Sky Lantern safety at www.clevelandfire.gov.uk/skylantern. You can also follow us on Facebook (/clevelandfb) or Twitter (@clevelandfb).
To help keep you and your family safe from fire, the Brigade provides free Home Fire Safety Visits and will fit smoke alarms if needed. Call 01429 874063 to arrange a visit to your home and you will receive specific fire safety advice for you and your family.