Following the April 5 power outage in Lansing and parts of Delta Township, which affected approximately 3,000 customers from 2:40pm until 3:39pm, the Lansing Board of Water & Light (BWL) discovered the outage was caused by a helium-filled mylar balloon that became entangled in a power line on Waverly Road just south of Michigan Avenue.
Mylar balloons often have a shiny external coating that contains aluminum, which readily conducts electricity. When tangled in power lines, metal-coated mylar balloons can cause fires and downed lines, which is dangerous to the public and BWL employees alike. In yesterday’s case, the power line caught fire, broke in two, with a section of the line making contact with the ground.
“This incident, while rare, is a good reminder that mylar balloons can be hazardous if they get caught in a power line,” said BWL General Manager Dick Peffley. “We encourage area residents to be aware of these potential hazards and to avoid releasing mylar balloons outdoors, especially near power lines”
Peffley continued, “Any time a live power line is down it creates a significant safety hazard both to the public and to BWL employees responding to the incident. Stay away from downed power lines and report them to BWL immediately so we can secure the area around the power line and get it repaired as quickly as possible.”
Downed power lines can be reported to BWL by calling 877-295-5001. If you see or suspect a downed power line, stay at least 20 feet away and keep children and pets away. Always assume a wire is dangerous, even if it’s lying still.
BWL asks area residents to follow these safety tips for mylar balloons:
- Keep balloons indoors.
- Metallic balloons should always be secured with weights.
- Never attach metallic streamers to balloons.
- Balloons should never be released outdoors.
- When disposing of the balloons, puncture them to release the helium, which prevents them from flying away.
- Do not try to retrieve balloons tangled in power lines or electrical equipment.