Ameren warns against using mylar balloon

COLLINSVILLE — 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 significant damage to the power grid. 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 to linemen who must safely untangle and remove leftover balloons from energized power lines.

“We realize this is the time of year when everyone is outdoors celebrating new grads, newlyweds, birthdays and spring break,” said George Justice, Vice President of electrical operations for Ameren Illinois. “Keeping balloons tied up 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.

“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.