Now that summer is here and the pandemic, it’s hoped, is mostly behind us, folks are trying to get back to a sense of normalcy. Part of that may be hosting belated graduation open houses, wedding receptions, garage sales and other private or community gatherings that may have been postponed or are back on the schedule.
Balloons often accompany these events. They are used to draw attention on direction signs or mailboxes or sold at events. But your electric co-op wants to ask consumers to keep the quarantine in place on metallic balloons.
These types of metal-coated balloons, or Mylars, can cause power outages and pose a public safety risk. If a gust of wind grabs the balloon, filled with helium or not, it can break loose from its string and blow into overhead powerlines. The metallic coating can conduct electricity and can cause a short circuit or power surge when in contact with power lines. This can lead to large-scale power outages, melting of electrical wires, and fires, leading to possible injuries and property damage.
Helium-filled balloons that float away can drift for days and miles and can come down anywhere.
To reduce the risk of outages and injuries associated with Mylar balloons, here are some important:
- Keep Mylar balloons away from power lines.
- Securely tie helium-filled metallic balloons to a weight that is heavy enough to prevent them from floating away. Do not remove the weight until the balloons are deflated.
- Never use metallic ribbon with metallic balloons.
- Puncture and deflate metallic balloons once they are no longer in use because they can stay inflated for several weeks. Please dispose of them properly in an enclosed trash receptacle.
- Never release helium-filled Mylar balloons into the sky!
- If you see a Mylar balloon that has contacted a power line or floated into an electrical substation, never attempt to retrieve it yourself. Keep yourself, your equipment, and all other items and people, at least 20 feet away. Call the electrical utility if you know it, or 9-1-1.