Metallic Balloon Downs Power Lines in Kahului, Knocks Out Power
Monday’s power outage in Kahului is being attributed to a metallic balloon that came in to contact with power lines. Representatives at Maui Electric Company say the contact caused electric lines to come down and knocked out power to nearby customers at approximately 1:40 p.m.
Company representatives say the balloon came into contact with four spans of power lines on West Kauaʻi Street. Crews repaired the downed lines and had power restored to affected customers by 6 p.m.
“Metallic balloons owe their shiny, silvery surface to a type of metallized nylon that can conduct electricity. Since the balloon’s shiny surface is a “conductor” – or something that can easily transmit electricity – it will create a short circuit. In some instances, metallic balloons in contact with power lines can lead to downed lines, the potential for fires, property damage to homes and businesses, and in the worst case serious personal injury,” said Maui Electric spokesperson Kauʻi Awai-Dickson.
“Metallic balloons often account for a high percentage of outages,” said Bobby Motooka, director of safety at Maui Electric. “It also becomes a safety concern for the Maui Electric crews that have to remove the metallic balloons from the energized lines,” he said.
Maui Electric offered the following information and tips:
- Never release metallic balloons into the sky.
- Always attach a small weight to the end of the ribbon or string that holds the helium-filled metallic balloon. Some ideas for a weight include a mug, small stuffed animal or heavy toy.
- Use only non-metallic string and make sure it is tied securely to the balloon at the sealing point.
- Do not remove balloon weights until the balloon has been deflated.
- Each metallic balloon should be individually attached to a weight. Avoid tying the balloons together which has a greater chance of rising as a cluster and becoming entangled in power lines, increasing the chances of electrical problems or power outages.
- Properly dispose of metallic balloons; cut balloons with scissors directly above the knot or sealing point to deflate it and immediately put the balloon in the trash.
- If you see a metallic balloon caught in a power line, do not attempt to climb a utility pole or pull the string to recover it. Leave it alone and call Maui Electric’s trouble line at (808) 871-7777 to report the incident.