RSPCA and fire chiefs urge Britons not to release sky lanterns to support the NHS

16 April 2020, 07:43 | Updated: 16 April 2020, 09:46

Brits have been urged not to release sky lanterns
Brits have been urged not to release sky lanterns. Picture: Getty/Twitter
Polly Foreman

By Polly Foreman

Fire lanterns are potentially hazardous to the environment and dangerous to animals.

Animal charities and fire fighters have urged Brits not to release fire lanterns as a mark of celebration for the NHS.

The RSPCA and National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) have warned that these products can be dangerous.

Their warning comes after Night Sky Lanterns tweeted last week: "Support UK NHS with Union Jack Sky Lantern #StayAtHome".

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Brits have been urged to show support without sky lanterns
Brits have been urged to show support without sky lanterns. Picture: PA

However, Dr Julia Wrathall, the RSPCA's chief scientific officer, warned of the dangers these pose to animals, saying: "It is great that people are looking for ways to show their support for the NHS staff and other key workers at this challenging time - but it is so important people keep sky lanterns grounded.

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"Lanterns may look pretty - but they're actually just pretty dangerous. They can be fatal to animals; destroying habitats, or posing a risk of ingestion, entanglement of entrapment as they return back to Earth.

"Every single local authority in Wales has already banned sky lanterns from being released on their land - highlighting just how dangerous these devices are considered to be.

"As people across Wales pay tribute to key workers amid this time of crisis, we urge them to show support and gratitude through other means - such as clapping from their door-steps, placing decorated signs in their windows and donating whatever they can to worthy causes. 

"And, of course, staying safely at home where possible." 

The NFCC added, according to the Daily Mail: "NFCC is warning a campaign encouraging sky lanterns to be lit as a show of solidarity for NHS workers is 'misguided'.

"This could lead to an intensive and complex large-scale incident; time which could be spent supporting vulnerable people in the community."


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