Join the Clap for Carers at 8pm tonight .. but please keep the lanterns out of the sky

Animal lovers and firefighters warning over danger of using floating flames in tribute to key workers

Animal lovers and firefighters are begging the public NOT to make sky lanterns part of Northamptonshire's tribute to the NHS tonight.

Lanterns made of paper, wire and and candles float into the sky like mini hot-air baloons and are being sold featuring NHS logos or Union Jack flags as a way to show support for healthcare workers in the weekly Clap for Carers at 8pm.

More than 80 local authorities in the UK have already banned lanterns following a blaze at a Midlands recycling plant in 2013 which took more than 200 firefighters to control.

Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue's prevention team leader Darren Carson warned: “In the last ten years, our firefighters have attended about 30 incidents relating to the use of sky lanterns. These typically involve fires affecting trees, roofs, drains and guttering.

“Lanterns may look attractive and it may feel like a symbolic gesture to release them, but in reality we are releasing lit objects into the sky which cannot be safely guided or controlled. It isn’t possible to judge where they will land or the damage they will cause when they end their journey.

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“We do support the need to recognise the great work of the NHS and other key workers at this time but there are so many other, more appropriate ways in which to do this.”

RSPCA inspectors found this owl trapped in a sky lantern

Local RSPCA officials have also revealed the serious danger lanterns pose to animals with shocking pictures of pets and wildlife trapped and tangled.

Ren Shilcock, RSPCA officer for the #EndSkyLitter campaign, said: "Sky lanterns might look pretty in the sky but they pose a serious danger to horses, farm animals and wildlife.

"Sadly, many people are unaware of the potentially deadly consequences the release of sky lanterns can have.

"Not only are they a serious fire hazard, animals can suffer through ingestion, entanglement and entrapment, or simply the sight of a lit lantern in the sky can be terrifying for them ancause them to bolt and harm themselves."

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