Flying Lanterns

Cornwall Fire, Rescue and Community Safety (CFRCS) Service are urging the public to be extremely cautious when using flying lanterns, also known as 'Chinese lanterns', following a national spate of fires they have caused.

Flying lanterns are airborne paper lanterns, constructed from rice paper on a bamboo or wire frame. They contain a small candle or fuel cell and when lit, the flame heats the air inside the lantern, which lowers its density causing the lantern to rise into the air. The lantern is only airborne for as long as the flame stays alight, after which the lantern floats back to the ground.

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There is evidence of them causing fires, wasting police time, being mistaken for distress flares, misleading aircraft and killing livestock. The risk of these occurrences will only increase as the use of flying lanterns increases.

CFRCS Service does not support the use of these devices and asks members of the public and event organisers to refrain from using them. Whilst these lanterns are undoubtedly a popular and beautiful sight, the potential damage they can cause is significant.

The Chief Fire Officers' Association is also discouraging the use of the floating paper lanterns on the basis that they constitute a fire risk when released.

If you plan on buying, selling or importing flying lanterns we suggest you view our business fire safety page on  Flying lanterns for further safety information and guidance.

View incident statistics recorded on Chinese lanterns which Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service have attended (2008 until 2012).

You may also like to visit the other related pages on fire safety outdoors below:

If you would like free advice on any aspect of fire safety, contact our Freephone Community Fire Safety Helpline on 0800 3581 999.

Any general enquiries should be directed to: 0300 1234 232

View our information on Dialling 999 in an emergency.