FAIRMONT, W.Va. – Mon Power tweeted about the danger of releasing foil balloons into the sky, and how it can cause power outages. Foil balloons were to blame for almost 220 power outages across FirstEnergy’s six-state service area in 2018 and 2019.
With February and June being the two peak months for purchases of these festive balloons, Mon Power wanted to remind people of the potential dangers and share safety tips for the proper disposal of these balloons.
They have realized many people just do not know the dangers associated with releasing foil balloons outdoors, and by educating the public they feel as if they can help keep local communities safer, while reducing the risk of any electric service disruptions.
According to their website, FirstEnergy provided the following safety tips to avoid releasing metallic balloons outside:
- Use caution and avoid celebrating with metallic balloons near overhead electric 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.
- Puncture and deflate metallic balloons once they are no longer in use because they can stay inflated for several weeks. Never release them into the sky.
- Never attempt to retrieve any type of balloon, kite or toy that becomes caught in a power line. Leave it alone and immediately call FirstEnergy at 888-544-4877 to report the problem.
- Stay far away from a downed or low-hanging power line. Always assume downed lines are energized and dangerous. Report them ASAP by calling 888-544-4877 or 911.
Mon Power Communications Representative Jim Cannon, said if people follow these tips and show extra care when disposing of these foil balloons, they can avoid putting the employees at Mon Power in a tough, and dangerous situation completely.
“We have to address that the same way we would address any other outage, so when that goes out, its hours of devoting resources to mitigate that,” said Cannon. “Somebody has to go up, and physically retrieve that, from the line. Which you can imagine, our folks operate as safely as they can, but that’s still work we don’t want to subject our people to.”
Cannon said the outer thin metallic layer of the balloons is what can cause short circuits, and outages if they get caught in or even touch a power line at the correct time. These outages, caused by something as simple as a balloon, can create problems and electrical damage to somewhere between hundreds and thousand of people at one time.
For more information on outdoor electrical safety, visit FirstEnergy’s website for details.