Energy company: Balloon releases can lead to power outages and fires

As people gather for outdoor celebrations, Ameren Illinois is asking customers to properly dispose of Mylar balloons to reduce the risk of power outages.

Mylar balloons are metallic and conduct electricity, resulting in power surges and short circuits that have the ability to cut power, start fires and cause major damage to the power grid, a press release says. . Each year, Ameren Illinois responds to numerous power outages caused by Mylar balloons coming into contact with electrical equipment.

Popular party supplies also present an unnecessary safety risk for linemen who must safely untangle and remove leftover balloons from energized power lines.

Yarn mylar balloons (Photo courtesy of Ameren Illinois.)

“We realize this is the time of year when everyone is out celebrating new grads, newlyweds, birthdays and spring break,” said George Justice, vice president of electrical operations for American Illinois. “Keeping balloons tied and weighted while in use, then puncturing and disposing of them properly afterwards can help ensure they don’t come loose and end up in our power lines and substations.”

If you notice a ball or other toy entangled in electrical infrastructure, always assume the line is live and do not attempt to remove the object yourself. Instead, call Ameren Illinois at 1-800-755-5000 and a team will be dispatched to handle the situation, the statement said.

“Mylar balloon related failures are more common than one might imagine,” Justice added. “A little extra precaution can really help us keep the lights on.”

Ameren Illinois offers additional Mylar balloon safety tips:

· Do not intentionally release balloons.

· It is safer to keep metallic balloons indoors. In fact, some parks have banned metallic balloons on their property, so be aware of those warnings.

· Never tie metallic ribbon to your balloon. Also, never tie a metallic balloon to a child’s arm. Both of these can pose significant electrical threats.

Ameren Illinois supplies power to 1.2 million electric customers and 816,000 natural gas customers in central and southern Illinois.