Warning issued over lighting lanterns for NHS in West Sussex

Experts in West Sussex have warned the public against lighting Chinese lanterns to show support for the NHS.

Picture via Pixabay
Picture via Pixabay

A number of emergency service organisations have issued warnings against lighting the lanterns due to the risk to wildlife, the environement and people's safety.

Instead grateful residents have been urged to clap for the NHS at 8pm every Thursday.

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Adrian Murphy, West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service’s area manager for protection, said: “We are as proud of all the NHS staff working so hard as all our communities are but please can we ask residents not to release sky lanterns tonight as part of the #ClapForCarers campaign.

“All of the emergency services are under pressure during this outbreak of COVID-19, and releasing a flammable lantern into the sky at a time when there is an increased risk of wildfires is incredibly dangerous.

“Sky lanterns have the potential to travel large distances, and pose a very real risk to other people’s properties, livestock and wildlife, as well as hazardous material sites.

“They could spark a complex and large scale fire that requires a multi-agency response from across the county and beyond, taking our frontline emergency service workers away from their duties supporting the community in this outbreak of COVID-19

“We would urge all residents to take part in the show of appreciation for our colleagues in the NHS and social care sector tonight, but to do so from the safety of their own homes by clapping, singing and making as much noise as possible and not putting any other residents at risk of fire by releasing sky lanterns.”

A spokesman for Selsey Coastguard also issued a statement regarding the safety concerns: "Please don’t use Chinese lanterns at the coast - they can be mistaken for distress flares.

"When we receive a report of what is suspected to be a distress flare we have to investigate it which can tie up resources when it isn’t necessary.

"While we completely understand that people want to show their appreciation for the NHS – and we ourselves have done so on Thursday evenings with the rest of the country – Chinese lanterns aren’t the way to show it. #ClapForTheNHS."