Electric utility company issues warning on Mylar balloons

May 17, 2011

Chicago – Although they may be fun and festive decorations for outdoor parties, helium-filled Mylar balloons also can be dangerous, warns electric utility company ComEd.

On May 11, more than 1,300 ComEd customers were left without power in Evergreen Park, IL, a southwestern suburb of Chicago. The cause of the outage was a Mylar balloon. When Mylar balloons come in contact with overhead power lines or substation equipment, their metallic properties can cause short circuits, power outages, fires and injury.

In the past five years, approximately 173,000 Chicago-area customers have experienced power outages related to Mylar balloons, ComEd noted. To prevent these occurrences, ComEd recommends:

  • Keep Mylar balloons tethered and attached to a weight at all times.
  • When disposing of balloons, be sure to puncture them so all helium is removed to prevent floating or blowing out of trash cans.
  • If a Mylar balloon or any other toy becomes entangled in a power line, do not attempt to remove it. Contact your local utility company.
  • Always assume power lines are live and keep yourself, your equipment and any other items at least 10 feet away.