Chinese lanterns, also known as sky lanterns, are illegal according to a press release sent out by Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith.
Alderman Smith has said that Chinese lanterns are illegal and a fire hazard. The device contains a candle inside a paper or silk housing. The candle is lit and the heat generated causes the device to rise into the air. The device then remains airborne until the candle burns out and the remainder of the device then falls to the ground.
‘If the device falls amongst vegetation, it can cause a runaway vegetation fire. This could occur hundreds of metres away from where the device was let off. In addition, once airborne and floating through the sky, these lanterns give the false impression that a distress signal has been discharged with marine flares. This may result in the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) launching a search for non-existent people in distress, which is a great waste of resources,’ said Alderman Smith.
The Community Fire Safety By-law clearly states that a person may not cause or permit a flame-emitting device, such as a candle, lantern or torch, to be used in a manner which is likely to create a fire hazard or other threatening danger.
‘… vegetation is generally very dry at this time of the year, which increases the risk of runaway fires. In 2006 we saw a vegetation fire on Table Mountain which was caused by a cigarette butt – so one can only imagine what these lanterns could do. I am appealing to residents to refrain from this dangerous and careless practice,’ added Alderman Smith.
These pictures are available for free media download on Sea Rescue’s Flickr page.