Experts warn against releasing balloons due to possible power outages

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – We all love them, especially around Valentine’s Day: mylar balloons. Those are the metallic-looking ones often with designs.

But, what can start as a thoughtful gift can cause a power outage if not disposed of properly.

Greenville Utilities’ Communications Manager Steve Hawley encourages everyone to be mindful of the dangers of releasing them outdoors.

“You don’t want them hitting powerlines because they’ll not only cause or have the potential to cause an outage, but if there’s an arching situation, then you’ve got power that automatically goes down to the ground, so if there’s people near that area, then it’s a huge safety problem as well.”

Hawley recommends not releasing balloons into the air because they can get caught in powerlines when they come back down. Instead, pop your balloon when you’re done with it, drain the gas out and throw it in the trash.

If you wish to still release something into the air, Jennifer Parker from Partymakers in Greenville encourages people to get a better alternative.

“We have what’s called wish lanterns,” she explained. “They’re biodegradable, and people like to release those because they’re pretty at night.”

On average, mylar or metallic balloons can cause up to 200 power outages each year, according to the Department of Water and Power.

Other safety advice to keep in mind when disposing of mylar balloons is to never bundle balloons together in the event a mistake of releasing them does occur, and never attempt to retrieve a caught balloon on powerlines.