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Let feelings fly on Valentine’s Day — not foil balloons

As Valentine’s Day approaches, FirstEnergy Corp. reminds customers to handle helium-filled foil balloons safely to keep the energy alive this season and year-round.

While the company experienced a decrease in the number of balloon-related outages in recent years, foil balloons continue to cause power outages when released outdoors because their metallic coating conducts electricity and poses a risk to the electric system.

February typically marks the onset of a dramatic increase in outages caused by metallic balloons that have floated off from their owners. The balloons often accompany popular Valentine’s Day gifts like chocolates, flowers and cards. Last year, foil balloons were to blame for 108 power outages across FirstEnergy’s six-state service area.

A video discussing the hazards posed by foil balloons and tips for safe disposal is available on FirstEnergy’s YouTube channel.

“The National Retail Foundation is predicting record spending on significant others this Valentine’s Day, and that includes balloon purchases,” said Lisa Rouse, director of Distribution System Operations at FirstEnergy. “While our community outreach has helped decrease balloon-related outages in recent years, this holiday provides an opportunity to educate people of all ages on the dangers foil balloons pose and how to help keep the lights on in our local communities.”

To help ensure holidays and celebrations are enjoyed responsibly, it is important to keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Use caution and avoid celebrating with metallic balloons near overhead electric lines.
  • Securely tie helium-filled metallic balloons to a weight that is heavy enough to prevent them from floating away. Do not remove the weight until the balloons are deflated.
  • Puncture and deflate metallic balloons once they are no longer in use. Never release them into the sky.
  • Never attempt to retrieve any type of balloon, kite or toy that becomes caught in a power line. Leave it alone and immediately call FirstEnergy at 888-544-4877 to report the problem.
  • Stay far away from a downed or low-hanging power line. Always assume downed lines are energized and dangerous. Report them ASAP by calling 911.

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