Considerations for safe use
Traditional flying lanterns go back thousands of years in both Chinese and Thai celebrations. They are becoming more popular worldwide for celebrating weddings, birthdays, anniversaries or any other special event.
However unexpired sky lanterns can pose a significant fire hazard, and livestock and wildlife in both the land and sea can be harmed by leftover parts from lanterns.
The Norfolk Sky Lantern and Balloon Release Charter encourages businesses, communities, and individuals to sign up and switch to alternative ways of celebrating events, instead of using balloon or lantern releases. There are many alternatives to releasing lanterns such as tree planting, flag flying, or even using giant bubbles! See Norfolk sky lanterns and balloon release charter - Norfolk County Council for more details.
Consider the risk of fire caused by incorrect handling, fuel remaining, or changes to the recommended flight or weather conditions.
The lanterns are generally made from paper supported by a wire frame with a holder at the bottom for a solid fuel cell. The paper outer may or may not be fire retardant. Sizes and shapes vary usually 90cm high with a diameter of about 80cm. Flying times suggested by manufacturers vary from 6 minutes up to 20 minutes with heights claimed to be up to 1 mile.
Flying lanterns should always have full safety instructions; further information should also be available from the supplier or manufacturer through their websites. A list of general instructions is also available at the end of this page.
We strongly recommend that guidance provided for safe use and enjoyment is followed at all times.
Whilst lighting and launch are mostly in the control of the user, the actual flight path and end destination are usually not. There is no guarantee that the fuel cell will be completely out and cooled when the lantern eventually descends and any contact with a flammable surface could result in a fire developing.
As well as the user instructions, think about the local area for the launch and intended flight path. The following list is not complete but highlights some areas that should be avoided for fire safety reasons:
- Areas of crops
- Buildings with thatched roofs
- Areas of dense woodland
- Areas of heath or bracken, especially in dry conditions
Event organisers subject to the Regulatory Reform (fire safety) Order 2005 must ensure that a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment has been completed prior to allowing the launch of flying lanterns. They are further advised to check with their insurance providers that the use will not adversely affect their insurance arrangements or if additional insurance cover will be required.
Guidance for the use of flying lanterns
These notes are to aid the risk assessment for the use of flying lanterns however
Users should always follow the manufacturers instructions.