Hampshire Fire and Rescue service have asked members of the public not to use sky lanterns in support of NHS as they are not only a danger to animals but a fire risk not worth taking.
What goes up must come down, and that can mean in a dry field or woodland meaning firefighters have to waste time and resources dealing with preventable fires.
The National Fire Chiefs Council has warned a campaign encouraging the public to light sky lanterns in a show of solidarity for NHS workers is ‘misguided’.
All emergency services are currently under increased pressure due to COVID-19. NFCC believes the suggestion that people should set off highly flammable lanterns – at a time when wildfires are likely to be on the increase due to the weather conditions – should be highly discouraged.
NFCC is urging the public to look for alternative ways to show their support to the NHS. Lanterns are a fire hazard; pose a risk to livestock, agriculture, thatched properties and hazardous material sites. Almost 90 local authorities across the UK have banned the use of lanterns.
NFCC Chair Roy Wilsher said: “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.
Manufacturers of the lanterns disagree stating “While we recognise that sky lanterns have caused inconveniences to farmers and some member of the public, we strongly believe that all those concerns are associated with poor quality sky lanterns which are not equipped with the latest innovative components, like those used to build premium, supreme and union jack sky lanterns.
In addition, we strongly advise our customers and those who intend to place an order to strictly follow guidelines and safety instructions highlighted at the end of this page and on the packeging. In particular, only use sky lanterns in appropriate weather conditions.
As emphasised by experts of the Trading Standard Institute (Code of Practice – Sky Lanterns 2014), when used as intended in appropriate conditions and in small numbers, sky lanterns do not constitute a high risk. With a little care and consideration they can be enjoyed safely.
We cannot guarantee that on Sunday the weather conditions would be suitable for releasing sky lanterns and this may be different across country and will need to be postponed to another day. For this reason, we have decided to include in each pack a Union Jack candle bags made with fireproof paper. However, please consider the possibility of using LED tea-lights to minimize the risk of fire from wax candles.”