Chinese lantern problem spreads beyond farming

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Chinese lantern in field

Farm leaders’ calls for Chinese lanterns to be banned are gaining support from the wider public.

The mother of a toddler who had his face badly burned after debris from a lantern dropped from the sky is calling for an outright ban, and we can but hope that such a ban will be forthcoming soon.

According to Sky News, Cael Jones was with his family and friends on Bonfire Night at a party in Penycae, near Wrexham, when the accident happened.

The family were watching the lanterns climbing through the sky when a melted section fell out of one of the lanterns and landed on the little boy's face.

"It's shocking what happened, it was the worst night of my life," his mother told Sky. "The oil got stuck on his face and his face was black. Everyone was screaming. He couldn't open his eyes."

It has also emerged that Chinese lanterns are causing problems for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

From 1 October 2009 to 30 September 2010 the Maritime and Coastguard Agency responded to 128 false alerts believed to have been caused by sky lanterns.

Lifeboats were launched for 26 of these incidents and on two occasions a helicopter was sent out to investigate.

Those lanterns are mistaken in coastal areas as parachute signal flares and thus the emergency services are mobilized unnecessarily, leading to costs and risks.

In other areas, aside from farming, and the incident at that bonfire night celebration, those lanterns cause distress to all manner of wildlife and that aside from the fire risks that those lanterns pose in the countryside and forests.

Many a fire in forests and heathland can, by now, be attributed to the sky lanterns and despite the fact that it is claimed that the paper of which the “body” of the lantern is made will not burn it does burn or melt in many cases and thus creating a ignition source for a wildfire.

A total ban of sky lantern and not just the ban on use; it must include a ban on sales, should be put in place and that well before next summer. It must be an enforceable ban and not as loose as the issue with the sale of fireworks which, as far as the law (used to) stand were only permitted to be on sale about a week or so before Bonfire Night or, as in the case of Germany, about a week before New Year and the use any time after New Year was illegal.

The same must be done and enforced as far as a total ban on sky lanterns is concerned. They are a menace and have no place amongst us.

© 2010