Sky lanterns might look pretty but they are a serious danger to animals and the countryside. Sky lanterns are usually used in Britain to mark special celebrations such as weddings, parties and New Year, but are you aware of the dangers they can cause?
Essentially a small hot air balloon made of paper, with an opening at the bottom where a candle is suspended, sky lanterns, or Chinese lanterns as they’re also known, can float for miles before they fall to the ground, causing a danger to animals and a fire hazard. Not just litter, but burning litter – it’s time to ground sky lanterns for good.
If your local council isn't already supporting the ban there are things that you can do to help.
Farmers and other landowners have to clear up the remnants of sky lanterns from their fields. Don’t be fooled by bamboo lanterns marked ‘biodegradable’ – they can still take decades to degrade.
Once a sky lantern is lit, nobody knows exactly where it will land. Fields of standing crops, hay and straw stacks, farm buildings housing animals, thatched roofs plus lots more are all at a significant risk of being set alight.
Animals and Livestock
Sky lanterns can cause suffering or even kill animals and livestock. Not just by fire, sky lantern debris can cause immense stress and injury. Some of the key dangers are:
- Animals eating lantern debris which can cause tears or punctures to internal organs leading to a potentially life-threatening situation
- Animals getting splinters in their skin which may cause infection
- Animals becoming trapped or tangled in debris
- Frames of lanterns can contaminate crops which are then unknowingly fed to animals.
Sky lanterns pose a significant danger to aviation traffic such as planes and helicopters. There are concerns that lanterns can be drawn into aircraft engines and can delay take-off and landing. In addition, lanterns drifting across a night sky are also commonly mistaken by the public and coast guards for marine distress signals.
Which councils have banned sky lanterns?
A number of councils have backed the campaign and banned the release of sky lanterns on council owned land. If you know that your local council has implemented a ban, but isn't on a list, please let us know by dropping our campaigns team an email.
Alternative ways to celebrate
Although an impressive sight, the dangers of releasing sky lanterns far outweigh the benefits. Here are just a few ideas of other ways to celebrate safely. If you've got any other ideas, we'd love to hear from you.
- Recycle your jam jars by adding a string of fairy lights or lighting a candle
- Blow bubbles to create a pretty scene
- Plant a tree or flowers in memory of your loved ones
- Create a memorial plaque
- Organise a memory walk in the great British countryside
To find out more, head over to RSPCA's website.