What you should know about Chinese lanterns

Be careful with sky lanterns and flying Chinese lanterns. These are actually little fires in balloons, and they can cause enormous damage.

Extremely flammable

The biggest risk posed by flying lanterns is the danger of fire. In principle, you are releasing a little bonfire into the environment, and you have no control over where the sky lantern will go or land.

The lanterns can reach a height of up to 800 metres, burn for 20–40 minutes, and drift in the air for several kilometres. If one of the lanterns falls to the ground while it is still burning, it can start a fire in a home or amongst vegetation.

Mistaken for distress flares

Chinese lanterns can easily be confused with distress flares. This has resulted in many false alarms and unnecessary call-outs for the emergency services.

The lanterns fly at significant heights and can also disrupt air traffic control. When the flame goes out and the lantern falls to the ground, it becomes litter in the natural environment. Animals can also hurt themselves on the wire, bamboo rods or paper from which the lantern is made.

Chinese lanterns are not illegal

In Norway, it is still legal to buy, sell and use Chinese lanterns. However, we all have a responsibility to act with caution and do all we can to prevent fires. Chinese lanterns are flying bonfires that you cannot control, so be extremely careful if you decide to use them.

In many countries, including Austria and Australia, Chinese lanterns are completely prohibited. Some states in the USA have also banned this product.

What is a sky lantern?

  • The lanterns are a simple design, with a frame of wire or bamboo covered with rice paper or similar thin material
  • Underneath the balloon is a plate on which a fire is lit, and this fills the balloon with warm air, propelling it upwards like a hot air balloon
  • Sky lanterns can fly at heights of up to 600–800 metres, burn for 20–40 minutes, and have a range of several kilometres

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