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Dudley Council the historic capital of the Black Country
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Don’t let off sky lanterns plea

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Residents have been urged to avoid letting off sky lanterns tomorrow (Thu) as part of the ‘Clap for Carers’ tribute to frontline staff in the borough fighting coronavirus.

Sky lanterns carrying the NHS logo or Union Jack flags on them have been circulating for sale online. They are being plugged as a good way to show support for the efforts of NHS and social care workers alongside clapping and cheering at 8pm every Thursday.

But council and fire chiefs have today urged borough residents not to buy or let off the potentially dangerous sky lanterns – during ‘Clap for Carers’ or at any other time.

The lanterns – which often comprise of a thin wire frame inside a paper shell containing a tealight – pose a fire risk to property and wildlife as well as to livestock, fire chiefs say.

Councillors in Dudley overwhelmingly backed a motion to prevent their sale and release on local authority owned land at a meeting last year.

Councillor Nicolas Barlow, cabinet member for health and adult social care and also a member of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority, said:

I fully appreciate people want to the show their support for the ongoing fantastic work of our frontline NHS and social care workers against coronavirus.
But setting off sky lanterns is not the way to do it.
They have been proven to be dangerous and the cause of huge fires – letting them off could place extra strain on our emergency services at a time when they are already under huge pressures as it is.
As a council we voted to ban their sale and release on our land for good reason last year, and I would urge residents to find safer ways to express their thanks tomorrow night and moving forwards.
Sky lanterns should not be set off at any time – they are potentially lethal.

Area Commander Steve Vincent, of West Midlands Fire Service, said:

The huge fire at a recycling site in Smethwick in 2013, believed to have been caused by a sky lantern, serves as a stark reminder of the devastation they can cause.
They use the heat of a naked flame to float. They’re not only a fire hazard but also a danger to livestock and agriculture.
Whilst ignition and launch are mostly in the control of the user, the actual flight path and end destination are not. There’s no guarantee the fuel cell will be completely out and cooled when the lantern lands, so any contact with a flammable surface could start a fire.
It is important that we all limit any potential for emergencies during the pandemic. Please do not use sky lanterns, but continue to show your support for the NHS and other key workers by simply, yet so powerfully, clapping for our carers.

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