Hold on to your balloons!

February 13, 2020

Those bright, shiny balloon bouquets offer a festive touch to any holiday, Valentine’s Day included. But their lighter-than-air quality can get out of hand, literally, and have unintended consequences for the power grid.

“Balloons may seem like small harmless things,” said Curt Mansfield, Rocky Mountain Power’s vice president of operations. “But when Mylar balloons touch power lines, the metal material is conductive. This causes power fluctuations and outages.”

Last year, Rocky Mountain Power recorded nearly 60 outages related to Mylar balloons, impacting close to 16,000 customers. Balloon-related outages often cause damage to equipment, requiring costly repairs.

“This may not seem like many in our three-state territory – but these outages are easily preventable,” Mansfield said, “We’re just asking people to be more careful in how they handle balloons in an effort to keep customers from being inconvenienced.”

There are steps you can take to help minimize the potential dangers:

  • Keep the balloons indoors where they can’t rise into overhead power lines or drift into contact with transformers or substations.
  • Make sure the string for each balloon is securely attached and short enough to control its direction.
  • Attach a weight to the balloon’s string so it cannot float away; and never intentionally release metallic balloons.
  • Deflate balloons after the holiday and keep as a memento or dispose of properly. Birds and squirrels have been known to carry balloon remnants onto lines.
  • Never chase a loose balloon across streets or attempt to retrieve a balloon from a power line or substation.
  • If you notice a balloon near a power line, do not try to retrieve it. Report it to Rocky Mountain Power by calling 1-888-221-7070.