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Not worth the effort for us I'm afraid
Member Name: SusanLesley
Advantages: Fun, pretty, cheap
Disadvantages: Difficult to get going, weather needs to be perfect
Last year some friends came to visit us and brought with them some sky lanterns for us all to try. We live about halfway up the Great Orme in Llandudno with nothing in front of our house apart from fields, sea and mountains in the distance so they thought that this was the ideal place to release the lanterns for maximum effect.
Since our friends were only staying for a couple of nights we had to take pot luck with the weather and sadly it was quite breezy which didn't help in our endeavours! The idea is that you write a wish on the lantern and then send it to the heavens to be read by the gods and granted.
Each lantern was packed flat in a cellophane packet and, although we didn't buy them I have checked on the internet and have found that they cost less than £1 each. The lanterns are made of paper with a piece of wire across the bottom on the centre of which is the block of fuel.
What you do is to remove the lantern from the packaging, write your wish on the paper and then pull the lantern gently into shape making sure that the wire holds the base of the lantern open and the fuel block is centred on the wire ready for lighting.
This provided the first surprise - it was a lot bigger than I expected! (Ooer missus!) It must have been almost three feet high! We took the first one outside and it was then that we found out that these should be used when there is only a very slight breeze! You need some wind to take the lantern up into the sky but too much and it is difficult to get it launched so to speak!
Firstly it took us ages to get the fuel block lit although once it was lit and got a hold it did stay alight. The warmth from the flame then heated the air in the lantern and once released it was supposed to sail heavenwards taking the wish with it.
It was difficult to get the lantern fully open and upright in the breeze as it kept falling sideways but we finally managed to launch the first one which initially landed in a neighbouring field but did take off again after a while and off it went looking very pretty as it went.
The second one was a lot more trouble! Again it took a while to get it ready in the breeze but once launched the wind changed direction and the lantern chased my friend along the garden and finally landed on the top of his car making a mark on the paintwork. We did eventually get it launched but we decided that two was enough so we didn't try any more.
In conclusion I wouldn't really bother with these. For us they were more trouble than they were worth although they did look good when they finally flew off and we did have lots of laughs especially when it chased my friend! They are also supposedly biodegradable but whilst the paper may well be I can't see how the metal can be biodegradable!
I was also worried that, if it came down in dry field before the flame had extinguished, it may well start a fire.
Finally a couple of words of warning ...........
Do not let children use these unsupervised! They are unwieldy and can get caught by the breeze and end up where they shouldn't so there must be an adult present to make sure of safety at all times - after all it is a naked flame. Along the same lines it is best to keep pets out for the way too - we made sure that Mew was safely asleep on the sofa.
The other thing I need to warn you about is peculiar to the coast. When lit and flying in the night sky the lanterns are almost identical to distress flares so you must notify the coastguard in order that the emergency services are not called upon unnecessarily. I can't see out lifeboat crew being very pleased at the thought of launching for a sky lantern!
As to whether the wishes were granted - I have no idea since it is bad luck to tell anyone else what you wished for I don't know if their wishes came true. My lantern was one of the ones that didn't get launched so my wish never stood a chance! LOL!
Summary: I'm not convinced that they are safe
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