Are you lighting up the night or breaking the law?
Sky lanterns typically start popping up this time of year as they're popular around the 4th of July, and some people like to light sky lanterns at their weddings. While they do look very whimsical as they go off into the atmosphere, are they even actually legal in the state of Indiana? It turns out, you may be breaking the law when you light them off.
Are Sky Lanterns Legal in Indiana? Yes, but With Stipulations.
It turns out these lanterns ARE legal in Indiana but with stipulations. You can't just light them off and let them go off into the atmosphere. You can however light them off, as long as you have them tethered to where they will come back down in the same area so you can clean them up. Section 308.1.6.3 of the Indiana Fire Code states:
A person shall not release or cause to be released an untethered sky lantern.
Sky lanterns are a wildfire risk, and they are also pollution. Remember, what goes up must come down. As pretty as these sky lanterns are, they are still made of material that will eventually fall back down to earth, they don't just burn up in the atmosphere (as I was once told).
In fact, there have been cases where cows have died after ingesting the wires from sky lanterns that fell back to earth. The same can go for balloons, while releasing balloons can l look very pretty, many animals have died from ingesting balloons once they've popped and fallen back down to earth.
Indiana Fire Department Warns of Sky Lanterns
The Boonville Fire Department recently took to Facebook to talk about sky lanterns, as they usually get many questions about them this time of year.
Here is what BFD had to say about sky lanterns:
Every year we receive calls asking about releasing sky lanterns. These devices, which consist of an open flame source, can possibly land on someone else’s property causing damage and therefore are illegal to freely release into the atmosphere. Indiana law states:“No person shall release or cause to be released a sky lantern/open flame aerial device with the intention of causing the lantern to lift into the atmosphere unless the lantern is anchored or tethered to the person's property such that the lantern cannot freely lift into the atmosphere.”If these devices are released freely into the atmosphere, you can receive a fine; and if damage is caused to someone else’s property, you are responsible for the damage. Please be responsible and only use these devices if you are on your own property and have the device properly tethered to prevent it from lifting into the sky freely.
So if you want to light off a sky lantern, that's fine, just make sure you have it tethered so it will come back down near you, and you can clean up after yourself.