20 minutes – Why sky lanterns are so dangerous

Five sky lanterns are said to have triggered the fire in the monkey house in Krefeld Zoo in northwestern Germany, which cost the lives of around 30 animals on New Year’s Eve. The Authorities are currently investigating a mother (60) and her two adult daughters, The three women reported to the police themselves, saying that they let the lanterns go up on New Year’s Eve, police and prosecutors said.


Have you already let sky lanterns rise?

There are several dangers from the paper lanterns “Star” writes, there should already be a fire hazard when lighting the lampione because bystanders could be injured. If the lanterns are in the air, they could catch fire and fall due to a gust of wind or fall abruptly due to leaky balloon envelopes and in both cases pose a danger to trees and buildings.

The lanterns could also cause fires if you let them drift into obstacles. “Even glowing remains are still considered dangerous,” the magazine continues. Other dangers include the danger to ground-based air traffic, driver irritation from falling lights and a short circuit on power lines. The residues also hinder mowing in the agricultural country, could get into the forage in the grass, silo and hay production and cause dangerous injuries in farm animals. The waste on the lakeshore affected the breeding sites.

In 2013, a sky lantern caused a major fire in a recycling factory near the city of Birmingham. Around 100,000 tons of paper and plastic went up in flames. There was a cloud of smoke about 1800 meters high above the factory, which could be seen for miles. The paper lamp had been blown away by the wind and landed burning on the company premises.

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Seized sky lantern of the Krefeld police.

In principle, it is prohibited in all of Germany to let sky lanterns rise. Even after a tragic accident of a ten-year-old boy in 2009. In some federal states, you can apply for a special permit, which is almost never granted.

The lights are no longer permitted in certain parts of Switzerland. According to the Federal Office for Civil Aviation (FOCA), this includes the cities of Zurich and Bern, within 12 kilometers of Basel-Mulhouse Airport – and thus the entire canton of Basel-Stadt – as well as the cantons of Basel-Landschaft, Valais and Geneva , For take-offs near airports with air traffic control, coordination with Skyguide is required. Sky lanterns are generally only approved after the end of operations within a radius of 5 kilometers from Zurich and Bern airports.

The lantern is also prohibited in the Schwyz community of Freienbach and on the other shore of Lake Zurich, in Rapperswil-Jona SG, but also in Hinwil ZH or the cantons of Freiburg and Graubünden.

The sky lantern is considered the oldest hot air balloon in the world and was invented around 2000 years ago by the Chinese military leader Zhuge Liang at the time to use it as a signal. Hardly anyone who does not know the lucky lantern construct made of thin tissue paper with a candle or a container with fuel paste in the middle, which is placed on a thin wire frame.

The lanterns are particularly popular today at weddings and other celebrations. To let the lanterns rise, the burner heats air, which causes the balloon to rise.

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In Switzerland, in the event of accidents involving sky lanterns, the person who caused the sky lanterns to rise is liable.


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