In 2009, The Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) became aware of the existence of a consumer product that poses a serious fire safety hazard.
The Flying Lantern (also known as a sky lantern) was being sold by Canadian online distributors of fireworks products and at retail stores.
The product resembles a small paper hot-air balloon, fuelled by an open flame.
When released, the hot air produced by the fuel source can lift the lantern to extreme heights and allows it to drift for long distances until the fuel is depleted. These lanterns are often released in large numbers to generate an impressive visual effect.
Due to their uncontrolled and unpredictable flight path, these products could land on trees, building rooftops, or other combustible properties while still ignited and potentially cause a fire.
Based on these concerns, the OFM issued Communiqué 2009-07 on May 27, 2009 (view the Communiqué for pictures of lanterns) and a Public Education Matters e-notice on May 28, 2009, which advised fire departments to caution members of their community about the potential fire hazards associated with the Flying Lantern and to encourage retailers who sell this product to remove it from their store shelves.
At that time, the OFM sent a letter to Health Canada urging them to take action to prevent the sale of Flying Lanterns.
In response, Health Canada conducted a study of these products and concluded that the results did not support a need to take regulatory action against the sale of Flying Lanterns. Health Canada indicated they would continue to monitor the media for incidents related to the use of Flying Lanterns and advised that any relevant information should be forwarded to them by completing the online Consumer Incident Report Form on their website.
The OFM has recently received a number of reports that indicate an increase in the use of Flying Lanterns and would like to re-emphasize that we still have the same fire risk concerns associated with the use of these products.
We would like to remind the fire service to take appropriate action to caution members of their community about the potential fire hazards related to the use of these Flying Lanterns and to discourage retailers from stocking these items.
In Health Canada’s response, they also indicated that they have not received any reports of incidents or injuries related to the use of Flying Lanterns.
Fire departments are encouraged to report any incidents related to the use of this product to Health Canada by completing their online Consumer Incident Report Form or by sending an email to the Surveillance Coordination Unit of CPSD’s Risk Assessment Bureau at HECSB_CPSD_RAB_SCU@hc-sc.gc.ca.
P/C David Hobson
Community Services Officer
Southern Georgian Bay OPP