Also Known as Chinese Flying Lanterns , Wish Lanterns or Sky Lanterns

Sky lanterns have been the cause of several and sometimes very serious fires, their inappropriate use particularly in times when vegetation or woodland is dry or crops are ripe can lead damage and safety concerns. Once a lantern is lit and released it has the potential to drop into or land on dry grass, crops, woodland, thatched roofs or straw bales and potentially set light to them. There have also been cases where the debris from lanterns has caused harm to animals. For further information on these risks please visit the National Farmers Union website. 

Guidance for the use of flying lanterns

Several Councils across the UK and Norfolk have banned the use of sky lanterns from their premises.

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.

We do not recommend the use of sky lanterns but appreciate that they are sold in the UK and some people may decide to use them, in which case you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions, take great care in their use and follow these guidelines:

  • Lanterns should be used by responsible adults only
  • Adults should not be under the influence of alcohol or any substance that could affect their level of responsibility
  • Have water or other extinguishing facility available at the launch site, lanterns or clothing may ignite if the correct launch procedures are not followed
  • Keep the launch area clear of combustible materials
  • Children and other observers to maintain a safe distance upwind of the launch area
  • Two adults are required to correctly launch each lantern
  • Do not attempt to launch damaged lanterns, be aware that writing messages on the paper can cause damage
  • Do not smoke whilst handling lanterns  

Launch Conditions and Area

  • Ensure sufficient clearance to avoid obstacles such as trees, power lines or buildings
  • Avoid launching near roads, especially major roads or motorways
  • Avoid standing crops, especially in dry conditions
  • Avoid areas that may allow confusion with distress signals
  • Do not launch within 5 miles of any airport
  • Do not launch in wind speeds in excess of 5 mph
  • Check wind direction before launch
  • Be aware of any other local conditions that could affect launch or landing safety such as thatched buildings, standing crops or dry heath land  

Launch Procedure

(Caution! - Steps may vary, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions)

  • Unpack and assemble the components carefully to avoid damage
  • Remove packaging waste from the area
  • Use two adults to launch each lantern
  • Gently pull the centre of the lantern up and start to inflate it by "dropping" to allow the air pressure to inflate. Take care not to damage the paper.
  • Hold the lantern upright and ask the second person to carefully light the fuel cell
  • Support the lantern gently as it inflates fully, it will eventually feel lighter and start to rise
  • Do not attempt to throw the lantern skyward, allow it to rise with support only
  • Do not tether the lantern as this may cause instability which could lead to the lantern igniting  

Go Green!

  • Eco friendly lanterns are available. These are fully bio-degradable and do not contain any metal which if left lying around can be harmful especially to animals