Fill the Air with Love, Not Foil Balloons on Valentine’s Day
February 13, 2020
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, now’s a good time to remember the public safety risks associated with helium-filled foil balloons. While these metallic balloons have increased in popularity as party and celebration decorations, they have also become the cause of many power outages.
“These balloons are attractive and relatively inexpensive decorations, but their metallic coating conducts electricity and poses a risk to our electric system,” said Lisa Rouse, director, Outage Management. “Stray balloons that drift into high-voltage equipment often cause power outages and other safety issues that impact our system.”
Foil balloons were to blame for nearly 220 power outages across FirstEnergy’s six-state service area in 2018 and 2019. Due to the popularity of Valentine’s Day balloons, February typically marks the onset of a dramatic increase in outages caused by adrift metallic balloons that peaks in June, when warm weather takes celebrations and picnics outdoors.
To help ensure holidays and celebrations are enjoyed responsibly, employees can help pass along the following balloon safety tips:
- 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.
Watch a video discussing the hazards posed by foil balloons and tips for safe disposal.