Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire & Rescue Service are warning of the dangers of flying lanterns and fireworks ahead of the forthcoming New Year celebrations.
Firefighters are urging people to take extra care if they are considering using flying lanterns or fireworks as part of their New Year celebrations.
Flying lanterns, also known as sky lanterns and Chinese lanterns, are usually made of paper, wire and bamboo and contain a lit candle. They can rise to more than 1,000 feet, fly for up to 20 minutes and float for miles before landing.
Neil Boustred, head of Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s community safety team, said: ‘You can’t control the direction they take or where they will land.
There is no guarantee that the fuel source will be fully extinguished and cooled when the lantern lands, and that’s a real fire hazard.‘
He said unsuitable locations for flying lanterns included areas near telephone and power lines, areas near standing crops, anywhere near buildings with thatched roofs, areas of dense woodland and areas of heath or bracken.
Three years ago, a stray New Year’s Eve flying lantern set fire to a car in Chalfont St Giles after landing next to it and then being blown underneath it.
As well as being a potential fire hazard, the lanterns often contain wire which can kill or injure animals, damage farm machinery or end up in animal feed.
The lanterns have also tied up a great deal of emergency service time over the years because they are sometimes mistaken for UFOs or distress flares.
Please also take care if you are using fireworks on New Year’s Eve.