Monday, 8 February 2010


Over the last year the releasing of Chinese Lanterns at parties has become popular. Chinese lanterns are usually made of hooped bamboo with crosspieces made of wire - a candle is lit in the bottom to allow the lantern to fly.

Beautiful they may be, fun for the observer, but they have been known to be dangerous.

Potential hazards include:-
• lanterns can cause alarm in farm animals which can make them stampede with the risk of harming them,particularly where breeding stock or rare animals are concerned
• debris from fallen lanterns can be eaten accidentally and cause serious internal damage
• the wire has been known to wrap around animals feet and cause lameness
• dry hay and straw in open sided barns are always vulnerable to fire
• standing crops particularly when dry and ready for harvesting can catch alight
• thatched cottage/buildings in traditional villages/farmywards are particularly vulnerable
• horses can be spooked by the floating debris even when being ridden - it could be a young child on board.

It has been reported that some farmers are calling for the lanterns to be banned altogether. The NFU has apparently written to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to raise awareness of the dangers lanterns pose. At the moment there appears to be no plan to ban them. The NFU has also urged farmers to write letters to local hotels and other hospitality centres close to them pointing out the risks and asking them not to use lanterns at their venues.

Lanterns can drift for many miles before coming down to the ground so it isn't always a case of keeping away from adjacent farm land, although clearly the risk becomes highest when the lanterns are released in areas close to the countryside.

If you are at a party and there is an intention of using the lanterns you could perhaps point out to organisers/hosts the risks involved ; and if they have to be used perhaps you could make sure they are secured in some way so that they cannot drift off and cause harm. Better still don’t use them!

______________posted February 8th 2010_______________
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