Balloon hazard risks safety of power lines

Staff report

FirstEnergy Corp. is reminding customers about the public safety risks associated with helium-filled foil balloons.

While these balloons are popular decorations, especially at outdoor gatherings in the spring and summer, a FirstEnergy news release reminds the public that balloons continue to cause power outages each year when released because their metallic coating conducts electricity and poses a risk to electric systems.

“Our communities have done a great job helping us raise awareness of the dangers of power outages caused by metallic balloons, and FirstEnergy has experienced year-over-year decreases in the number of these outages as a result,” Lisa Rouse, director of distribution system operations at FirstEnergy said.

Last year, foil balloons were to blame for 102 power outages across FirstEnergy’s six-state service area, including Ohio — an 18 percent decrease in balloon-related outages when compared to 2021 and a 25 percent decrease when compared to 2020.

The dramatic increase in outages caused by adrift metallic balloons peaks in June, when more celebrations and picnics move outdoors.

To help ensure holidays and celebrations are enjoyed responsibly, the following safety tips are suggested:

• 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 911.



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