Chinese Lanterns - The dangers
Chinese Sky Lanterns
Chinese Lanterns or "sky lanterns" have been used to mark special occasions for many years now. It has become increasingly popular to use chinese lanterns for weddings, birthdays, parties and many different celebrations.
Recently, there have been reports that have blamed chinese lanterns for the cause of several fires in the United Kingdom, damage to property and distress to wildlife. Due to the dangers associated with some of the lanterns, several countries have actually banned their use, including Germany and Austria, with other countries set to follow suit.
How do Chinese lanterns work?
They are made of a non-flammable paper, a flammable base and a metal frame which holds the sides of the lantern back to give it the round or oval shape. Basically, the flammable base is set alight, and as the air inside the lantern heats up, the lantern then rises and floats upwards and away. It takes around 20-30 seconds for the lantern to rise, and once this happens it can reach heights of up to 250 metres. The lanterns can stay afloat for up to 20 minutes. Once the fuel has been used, the flame extinguishes and the lantern is supposed to float back down to earth. The instructions on the box state that the lanterns should be lit after dark, in open spaces with no surrounding trees, buildings or overhead cables.
The problem with sky lanterns
One of the problems which has occurred, is that in some instances, the lanterns have floated back down to the ground before the fuel has been fully used and extinguished. In several cases, the lanterns have landed and set fire to paper, grass and even trees. Once the lantern has descended to earth, the metal support from the inside is all that remains and is a huge hazard to birds, farm animals and wildlife. The wire poses a real threat to the environment and one farmer claims that one of his cattle ate the metal ring and later died as a result.
Perhaps we should all think before we buy sky lanterns. They may look beautiful in the night sky, but is it worth the risk to our environment and wildlife?
Eco-friendly chinese lanterns
Several of the manufacturers of sky lanterns have become aware of the dangers and have put in place some measures to try to eliminate the potential hazards. If you are thinking of having chinese lanterns for an upcoming event, try and source ones that are eco-friendly. Check the box to ensure that the lantern is 100% bio-degradeable and contains no metal parts. Many of the eco-friendly lanterns have a pre-attached fuel cell which is held on by flame retardant wool. If this is ingested by animals, it is totally harmless. Hopefully, in the near future, all manufacturers will have more stringent safety measures enforced or a total ban if they fail to comply. That's me done....rant over!