FirstEnergy issues warning as foil balloons cause more power outages

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CLEVELAND (WJW)– With all the drive-by celebrations going on, FirstEnergy is warning people of potential power outages caused by foil balloons.

“Right now with drive-by celebrations and more people social distancing, more and more helium balloons are attached to cars and they are getting loose,” said Lauren Siburkis, FirstEnergy spokesperson.

Just this past Saturday, 700 people were left without power on the east side of Cleveland. FirstEnergy said balloons were to blame.

“Our crews went out to investigate and saw two separate foil balloons tangled up in our power lines at two different locations. The metallic coating on those balloons can conduct electricity when they come in contact with our equipment,” Siburkis said.

 Utility crews had to replace the lines and power was restored four hours later.

FirstEnergy said over the past month, crews have responded to dozens of power outages caused by foil balloons drifting into high-voltage equipment.

“With more and more drive-by celebrations taking place, we are seeing more and more of these types of outages. We aren’t discouraging customers from using these balloons,” Siburkis said.

 FirstEnergy said it doesn’t want to rain on anyone’s parade. It wants to remind people of the potential risk of power outages after a celebration.

“A lot of people don’t realize they can stay inflated for several weeks. They can drift off and float into equipment that are several miles away from they are released. We encourage you to puncture and deflate balloons when they are no longer in use to prevent power outages,” Siburkis said.

FirstEnergy also reminds people to never try to retrieve a balloon that is caught in a power line.  Instead, call them.

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