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Hood River Power Outage Caused by Metallic BalloonSalem-News.com
There are about 30 of these "balloon" outages a year, just in the Hood River area.
(HOOD RIVER, Ore.) - A power outage that disrupted life in Hood River Nov. 12 was caused by a metallic-skinned helium balloon that got away.
"We found unmistakable Mylar shreds when we did the repairs," said Curt Mansfield, vice president for operations at Pacific Power.
The balloon from a nearby celebration apparently blew into a substation and made contact with electrical equipment and caused a short. Response came quickly and power was back on within 75 minutes.
While rare, balloon-caused outages are regular occurrences. Pacific Power reported about 30 such outages in 2015, ranging in duration from a few minutes to several hours. In 2014, a balloon caused a six-hour outage in Seaside in the middle of July 4 weekend.
Balloon-caused outages occur throughout the year, but about one third of them are during May and June when people are celebrating graduations and Father's Day.
"Balloons may seem like small things," said Mansfield, "but when escaped helium-filled balloons touch power lines, transformers or substations, even the smallest amount of metal found in the balloons can conduct electricity, causing damage to lines and power fluctuations or outages in nearby homes and businesses.
"Balloons also can cause serious personal injury if they make contact with lines when anyone is still touching an attached string."
"About 30 a year is not a lot," added Mansfield. "But all outages inconvenience our customers and these outages are so preventable."
There are steps you can take to help minimize the potential dangers:
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