Here's why you shouldn't set off sky lanterns during the clap for carers

Thursday, 16th April 2020, 1:10 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th April 2020, 1:11 pm

Firefighters have warned the public against the risky practice of setting off sky lanterns during the weekly clap for NHS workers.

Sky lanterns are mini hot air balloons made of paper, which are powered by a small flame lit on the underside. They are popular markers for festivals, celebrations and memorials.

Recently, UK firm Night Sky Lanterns encouraged the British public to set off its £6 Union Jack fire lanterns as part of the weekly clap for NHS workers, promising to donate proceeds to the health service.

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However, the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has now warned the public that setting these lanterns off poses a serious fire risk to "livestock, agriculture, thatched properties and hazardous material sites", and urged people to find alternate ways to celebrate key workers.

'Letting off lanterns will put extra strain on emergency services'

NFCC Chair Roy Wilsher told the Metro, "While I fully understand people wanting to show their support to the NHS, I would encourage people to find a different way to do this. NFCC does not advocate the use of sky lanterns and we do not believe they should be used under any circumstances.

"All emergency services are currently under unprecedented pressure due to COVID-19, and I am concerned this type of activity could not only put additional pressure on the fire service, but further strain on the NHS.

"If a sky lantern causes a fire, it could see firefighters spending valuable time dealing with what could be a complex and large-scale incident. Time which could be spent supporting vulnerable people in the community, as part of the fire services response to COVID-19."

Banned in 90 local authorities

In around 90 local authorities across the UK, letting off fire lanterns is actually banned due to the fire hazard they pose.

Over the years, several devastating images have emerged of animals becoming trapped and dying in fire lanterns - with owls being one of the most regular victims.

At the start of 2020, a zoo in Germany was devastated by a fire which was believed to have been caused by fire lanterns. The resulting fire killed around 30 animals.