The Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection (Direktoratet for samfunnssikkerhet og beredskap – DSB) wants to ban the sale of the lanterns – also known as sky lanterns or Kongming lanterns – which it claims are a fire hazard.
“During 2014 we intend to send a proposal for regulation to the Justice Ministry,” said Steinar Tegneby, senior engineer at DSB.
Until now, DSB has not considered the lanterns to be a sufficiently big problem to warrant a ban. Few stories in Norway sell them, although they are now more easily available online, he said.
The lanterns can cause hazards when they blow off course in windy weather and can therefore become a fire risk in densely-populated areas.
“We know of one fire incident [caused by Chinese lanterns], but as far as we know there haven’t been many fires,” Tegneby said.
Norway’s rescue services have previously expressed their irritation with the lanterns, which they say can be mistaken for distress flares.