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"We love the NHS but we don't love dealing with fires caused by sky lanterns"

3 minute read
"We love the NHS but we don't love dealing with fires caused by sky lanterns"

Published by Grace Mcgachy at 4:59pm 15th April 2020. (Updated at 5:03pm 15th April 2020)

Emergency services in Surrey and Hampshire are pleading with people to stop using sky lanterns in 'support of the NHS'. 

Surrey Police say the potential damage they can cause is significant.

The lanterns, which consist of thin paper, wiring and a small candle, have been promoted by sellers for use in the Clap For Carers campaign to raise money for the NHS during the coronavirus outbreak - but have been blamed for causing serious injuries to livestock and animals.

The National Fire Chiefs Council has described the campaign as 'misguided'. 

The NFCC says all emergency services are currently under increased pressure due to COVID-19 and that the suggestion that people should set off highly flammable lanterns – at a time when wildfires are likely to be on the increase due to the weather conditions – should be highly discouraged.

Farmers have expressed their concerns over the increasing use of the lanterns and renewed their appeal for the public to boycott using them.

A spokesperson for the National Farmers' Union said:

"Although this initiative may be well-intentioned and aims to raise money for the NHS, sky lanterns pose a serious fire risk and a danger to animals who may ingest the debris.

"The NFU has campaigned against their use as we have heard from dozens of farmers over many years about the gruesome injuries sky lanterns have caused to their livestock and other animals, as well as devastating fire damage to hay, straw and farm buildings.

"They also land as unnecessary litter wherever they fall."

Hampshire Fire and Rescue said in a tweet there are better ways to show your appreciation for frontline workers: 

"We love the NHS.

"But we don't love dealing with fire caused by sky lanterns Join us in clapping to show your appreciation - don't let your 'thank you' crash and burn."