Balloons are a fun way to celebrate special occasions, but many Wellingtonians are not aware of the impact helium filled balloons can have on power lines.
The metallic coating, found on most helium filled balloons, conducts electricity extremely well and can cause a short circuit or power surge when in contact with power lines.
If released into the air, they can easily become entangled in power lines which can cause an outage, damage to our assets and other safety issues that impact the reliability and security of our network.
The most recent incident in March of this year saw a helium balloon encounter an overhead 11000-volt power line, resulting in an outage where close to 300 customers were left without power.
Over the last five years, helium balloons have caused approximately 19 power outages across Wellington, the Hutt Valley and Porirua.
Keep in mind, helium foil balloons are also not biodegradable, so they continue to impact the environment for many years to come if not disposed of properly.
So, continue to celebrate, just ensure you secure, or keep them inside and remember to deflate once the party is over!
Some safety tips regarding balloons
- If celebrating outdoors, ensure you secure and weigh down helium balloons.
- Don’t celebrate with balloons under power lines or close to power stations.
- Deflate foil balloons after celebrating with them and dispose of them properly. They’ll stay inflated for several weeks otherwise, due to the polyester and foil construction.
- Never try to retrieve a balloon, kite, or anything else tangled in a power line. Leave it alone and call our 24-hour Electricity Emergency Line, 0800 248 148 to report the issue.