Emergency services urge well-wishers not to set off sky lanterns for NHS

Emergency service chief have told well-wishers not to set off sky lanterns in support of the NHS. P

Emergency service chief have told well-wishers not to set off sky lanterns in support of the NHS. Picture: Pixabay - Credit: Pixabay

Emergency services have slammed a ‘misguided’ campaign to release sky lanterns on Sunday in support of the NHS.

Representatives from the fire service, coastguard, and RSPCA have raised concerns about the campaign launched by london-based company, Night Sky Lanterns, due to the damage the lanterns can cause to livestock, property, and the environment.

A Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “We’ve heard people are being asked to buy sky lanterns and set them off, in support of our amazing carers.

“Please do not do this, these lanterns could cause a significant fire.

“A better, safer way to show your support is to stay at home.”

The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) branded the campaign ‘misguided’.

NFCC chair Roy Wilsher added: “While I fully understand people wanting to show their support to the NHS, I would encourage them to find a different way to do this.”

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“All emergency services are currently under unprecedented pressure due to Covid-19, and I am concerned this type of activity could not only put additional pressure on the fire service, but further strain on the NHS.”

A Weston Coastguard spokesman added: “We’ve heard people have been asked to buy sky lanterns to release in support of our NHS heroes. Please do not do this.”

“If they head out to sea they could be mistaken for distress flares prompting call-outs for teams around the coast.”

“Please continue to show support for our NHS colleagues in the usual way of clapping and keeping your two-metre safe distance.”

A spokesman for the RSPCA said: “While sky lanterns might look pretty in the sky, they pose a serious danger to horses, farm animals and wildlife.

“Sadly, many people are unaware of the potentially deadly consequences the release of sky lanterns can have for animals — they can suffer through ingestion, entanglement and entrapment, or simply the sight of a lit lantern in the sky can be terrifying for them and cause them to bolt and harm themselves.

“We know many people are already aware of the dangers sky lanterns pose to animals, and we hope others will instead choose to show their gratitude to key workers in other ways such as clapping from their homes.”