Having red and silver heart-shaped metallic balloons delivered to a loved one on Valentine’s Day is a sweet gesture. Metallic balloons are also used to celebrate birthdays and graduations and given as “get well soon” gifts. These shiny and colorful balloons brighten any celebration, but they must be handled and disposed of properly to avoid safety hazards and damage to electrical systems.
“If metallic balloons come into contact with overhead power lines, they can cause power outages and create dangerous situations,” explains Vera Water and Power Communications Manager Catherine Cronin. “Fortunately, with a few simple precautions, these balloons can be used without any 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. If released, metallic balloons can come into contact with overhead power lines or electrical substations and can cause power outages and fires.
According to the Los Angeles Time, metallic balloons led to the loss of power to about 5,000 homes on Feb. 15, 2016. The balloons had gotten caught in electrical equipment. If a balloon becomes entangled with a card or tag that can be traced to you, you will be responsible for the damages.
Vera Water and Power offers the following tips to help you make sure metallic balloons are used and disposed of safely:
- Always tie your balloons down or use a weight.
- Do not intentionally release the balloons.
- It is safest to keep metallic balloons inside. In fact, some parks have banned metallic balloons on their property, so be aware of these warnings.
- If you see a metallic balloon in contact with a power line, never attempt to disconnect it yourself. Notify the electrical company immediately.
- Never tie a metallic ribbon on your balloon. Also, never tie a metallic balloon to a child’s arm. These both can pose substantial electrical threats.
After your celebrations have come to an end, always pokes holes in and deflate metallic balloons so that they cannot float away and risk contact with electrical equipment. Consider creatively reusing the balloon in a craft project or as gift wrap.