Do not use sky lanterns on July 4

sky lantern
Sky lantern release in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Photo by Takeaway.

In the United States July 4 is a holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. For many people it involves fireworks which can be beautiful when conducted by professionals at an organized event, but can be dangerous in the hands of those buying them at tents set up on the side if the road, causing injuries and starting fires.

An especially hazardous device that can be classified as fireworks are sky lanterns. The Jefferson City, Missouri Times Tribune has an editorial, warning about the dangers of fireworks. Below is an excerpt:

…Sky lanterns are another concern. Like other fireworks, they’re illegal to release inside the city limits. However, that hasn’t stopped some people from using the pretty-but-potentially-dangerous items.

Once a sky lantern is lit, the hot air lifts it into the air.

The flaming lantern can travel more than a mile from its starting point.

Wind can affect the sky lantern, blowing the sides, forcing the hot air out and sending it back to the ground, while still burning. A flaming lantern can drop onto a rooftop, field, trees or power lines before the flame is fully extinguished. A destructive fire can result when a flaming lantern reaches the ground during dry conditions.

Obviously, sky lanterns are potential fire hazards beyond other fireworks.

We urge you to avoid them, and to follow the fireworks laws in general.

Too often sky lanterns get caught on trees, roofscell phone towers, or land on the ground when the flames are still active and ignite damaging fires. They are banned in most U.S. states and many countries.

Fire Chief finds charred sky lantern on his roof

charred burned sky lantern fire illegal
Chief of the International Falls, MN Fire Department, Adam Mannausau, displaying an illegal sky lantern that landed on the roof of his house. Photo: International Falls FD.

When the Chief of the International Falls Fire Department was backing out of his driveway last week in Minnesota he spotted something on his roof that was not supposed to be there. Chief Adam Mannausau discovered it was a charred sky lantern.

These dangerous devices use burning material to loft a small paper or plastic hot air balloon into the air. The perpetrator has no control over where it lands. Usually the fire goes out before it hits the ground, but not always. Sometimes the envelope catches fire while in flight. Numerous fires have been started on the ground by sky lanterns. Even if they don’t ignite a fire, they leave litter on the ground. Metal parts have been picked up by hay balers causing serious problems when fed to livestock

Sky lanterns are illegal in at least 30 states, including Minnesota.

sky lantern launch fire dangerous
File photo of a sky lantern.
Sky lanterns launch hundreds fire wildfire dangerous
Sky lanterns are sometimes launched by the hundreds at organized events. File photo.

Sky lantern incident — 15 people injured and 4 houses destroyed

A sky lantern caused burn injuries to 15 people when one of the dangerous devices landed on a shop in the Indian state of West Bengal. The fire spread to four kutcha houses, gutting them, and injured 13 adults and two children who were all admitted to Tamluk hospital.

Police said six people, including the two children, were in serious condition.

Sky lanterns, also known as Chinese lanterns, are plastic or paper bags lofted by the heat created by burning fuel at the bottom. After they are launched the perpetrator has no control and the dangerous devices are carried wherever the wind blows. Too often they get caught on trees, roofscell phone towers, or land on the ground when the flames are still active and start damaging fires. They are banned in most U.S. states and many countries, including Brazil.

Sky lantern sets fire to Olympic venue in Rio

The track and roof of the velodrome used in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro were damaged after a sky lantern landed on the facility. Much of the roof was heavily damaged and photos from TV network Globo showed a 20 to 30 meter section of the track had burned. Wood from Siberia was used to construct the track surface which made it one of the last venues in the Rio Olympics to be ready.

Sky lanterns, also known as Chinese lanterns, are plastic or paper bags lofted by the heat created by burning fuel at the bottom. After they are launched the perpetrator has no control and the dangerous devices are carried wherever the wind blows. Too often they get caught on trees, roofs, cell phone towers, or land on the ground when the flames are still active and start damaging fires. They are banned in most U.S. states and many countries, including Brazil.

Some areas enact specific laws or regulations prohibiting sky lanterns, but they are banned in any state or city that adopts the 2015 edition of the International Fire Code.

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Sky lantern may have caused warehouse fire

Sky lantern
Sky lantern, file photo.

The most likely cause of a fire that damaged a warehouse in the Philippines is a sky lantern, a small balloon carried aloft by burning fuel attached to its base.

According to the Cebu Daily News, Felix Suico Jr., head of the Bantay Mandaue Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, said the fire may have been caused by a lighted sky lantern that landed on the warehouse’s roof. The fire was reported at 12:27 a.m. on January 1. The building was used to store electrical supplies.

Several other fires that broke out at around midnight on New Year’s Eve burned 400 homes in Barangays Guizo and Maguikay, Mandaue City. The causes of those fires have not been released.

Rancher says sky lantern caused death of a cow

Sky lantern
Sky lanterns. This photo found on the site of a company that sells the dangerous devices appears to show four of them in the background that have ignited the paper or plastic balloon and are raining down burning debris.

A rancher in the United Kingdom is blaming the death of one of his cows on a sky lantern that landed on his property. These devices are small hot air balloons lofted into the air by fuel burning at the base.

Below is an excerpt from an article at Farmers Weekly:

…Last year, David Rowlands of Grange Farm, Mickle Trifford, Chester, experienced the problems of sky lanterns first hand. The Rowlands family lost one of their pedigree Red Poll breeding cows to a sky lantern around bonfire night.

“She started staggering, so we treated her for staggers, but obviously it had no effect.

“The vets assessment was that the oesophagus had been pierced by wire from one of these wretched things, leading to asphyxiation,” Mr Rowlands explained.

“These sky lanterns have either wire or bamboo frames and essentially they’re cannon balls floating.

“Eventually they land and if they land in a field with cattle grazing, the cattle will investigate.

“The animals are inclined to chew things like this, the wire will splinter, penetrating their throats and causing swelling. It leads to asphyxiation, a horrible death taking about 48 hours.”

“How an animal-loving nation can tolerate this sort of risk to cattle and sheep baffles me,” he toldFarmers Weekly.

But Mr Rowlands hopes if more councils ban them it will help as he says he doesn’t think it is deliberate nastiness of the people releasing them, more that they simply don’t understand the risks.

“Our cows don’t think they are worth the risk,” he said…

Sky lanterns are banned in 39 of the states in the U.S.