Metallic balloons can cause power outages
Having red and silver heart-shaped metallic balloons delivered to a loved one on Valentine’s Day is a sweet gesture. Metallic or foil balloons are also used to celebrate birthdays and graduations and are given as “get well soon” gifts.
While these shiny and colorful balloons brighten Valentine’s Day or any other celebration, they must be handled and disposed of properly to avoid safety hazards and damage to electrical systems. Fortunately, with the proper precautions, metallic balloons can be used without problems.
Metallic balloons are filled with helium and are made of a type of nylon with a thin external metal coating. The metal coating can conduct electricity. Because these balloons are lightweight and buoyant, they can easily fly away.
However, what goes up must come down, and there is a good chance these flyaway balloons can get tangled in power lines or substations. If this happens, it will cause a surge of electricity. These surges cause electrical arcs, explosions and fires. This creates a dangerous situation for people and can cause power outages that require expensive repairs.
If you use metallic balloons for a party or celebration, always make sure these balloons are both weighted and tied down, so they do not fly away. Never purposely release a metallic balloon.
Even if a balloon filled with helium flies away and out of reach of power lines, it will come back down as the helium slowly leaks out of the balloon. These balloons can come back down miles away from where they originated and can put distant communities in the dark.
If a balloon does get tangled in a power line, do not attempt to retrieve it yourself. That is extremely dangerous. Contact your local electric cooperative to remove any objects tangled in power lines.
Do not tie metallic balloons to children, especially with a metallic ribbon. If the balloon comes in contact with electricity, the child could receive a fatal shock.
It is safest to keep your metallic balloons inside. In fact, some parks have banned metallic balloons on their property, so be aware of these warnings.
After your celebrations have come to an end, always deflate and poke holes in the balloons so they cannot become airborne after disposal. As they are not biodegradable, try upcycling the balloons. Consider creatively reusing them as gift wrap, for scrapbooking or a unique craft project.
Each year, metallic balloons cause thousands of power outages across the nation. Keeping your heart-shaped balloons tethered this Valentine’s Day is an easy way to prevent an outage. For more information on electrical safety, visit SafeElectricity.org.