Friday, June 19, 2015

Keep your party balloons away from power lines

Summer is the time of year to have outdoor parties to celebrate a graduation or Father’s Day with a backyard barbeque. Please consider your special party decorations carefully because your choice could cause serious safety issues.

Mylar balloons tangled in our power lines.
Helium-filled metallic or Mylar balloons have caused more than a dozen power outages affecting more than 16,000 of our customers this year alone. The metallic surface of the balloon acts as a conductor that creates a short circuit in a power line.

“The balloons are basically aluminum foil filled with air,” said Grant Melcher, one of our troubleshooters.

Melcher has had several experiences with Mylar balloons on power lines. He says that most of the time, the balloons are found on power lines in residential areas. That is cause for great concern. Lines could fall across fences, in front of homes or right onto someone’s party.

“One time there was a violent explosion from contact with a balloon. It caused a fire and brought down the wires,” said Melcher. “We could hear the party going on near the scene.” Troubleshooters arrived at the location quickly and secured the safety of the neighborhood and themselves before they began repairs.

Dave Megna, director - system operations, says that the strings and streamers attached to the balloons also can be very dangerous. “If they are touching our equipment, they could be energized, so don’t touch them.”

Here are some safety tips when using metallic balloons:
  • Use caution and keep balloons away from power lines.
  • Make sure the balloons are tied to a weight securely.
  • Never release the balloons in the outdoors.
  • Never attempt to retrieve a balloon that has become entangled in a power line.
Melcher offers his own advice: “When the party is over, pop them and throw them in the trash.”

Celebrate safely!

More safety tips

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