SALT LAKE CITY — Losing or throwing away your Mylar balloon may create something you never expected — a power outage.
Power companies say we should just let the balloon meet its demise the natural way — by slowly losing air until it lays itself down at your feet with the gentle message, “it’s time.”
And, whatever you do, don’t let go of a Mylar balloon while you’re outside. It’s much better for anybody served by an electric company if you just keep those Mylar balloons coraled inside.
Mylar balloons conduct electricity
You read right. Mylar balloons are made of two materials, nylon (the mylar) and foil. The metallic foil part of the balloon can conduct electricity.
Let them go outside and they get caught up in power lines?
“They can cause a lot of problems to our system and create outages,” said Tiffany Erickson a spokeswoman for Rocky Mountain Power. She spoke with KSL Newsradio host Jeff Caplan on Friday afternoon.
The Mylar balloon’s metallic or foil coating conducts electricity. The balloon can cause either a power surge or a short circuit if it flies into power lines.
“Last year,” she said,” Mylar balloons caused 60 outages in our three-state territory.”
She admits that 60 outages may not seem like much in a territory that covers three states, but, “outages are inconvenient for anybody [especially] when they can be easily prevented.”
Safety tips for Mylar balloons
The easiest way to keep a Mylar balloon from getting entangled in power lines is to keep them inside. They can brighten up any room!
If there’s more than one they usually end up hanging out in a corner together and, as mentioned above, begin to get smaller and less joyful. They’ll give up their ghost about two weeks after you receive them.
If you simply must take your Mylar balloon outside (for example, if your child is insisting) make sure those little fingers grip that ribbon tightly.
Perhaps tie it around their wrist. In some cultures, this is exactly how parents keep track of their children. So there’s that benefit, too.
When the party’s over
There’s one more thing you should know about Mylar balloon safety. Once they’ve deflated, they must be disposed of properly.
Their threat to power lines is minimized, but their threat is just beginning … for the birds. They’ve been known to pick out deflated Mylar balloons from unsecured trash, and yes, after all of your conscientious work the balloons have ended up in the wires anyway.
Like our light bulbs and electric appliances, getting rid of Mylar balloons has become complicated.
But somewhere a bird will thank you.
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