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Mylar Balloons Spark Power Outages

Mylar Balloons Spark Power Outages

Decorations can cause dangerous power outages; 1,327 customers lose power Wednesday evening

CHICAGO, May 12, 2011 -- With spring graduations and the outdoor entertaining season upon us, ComEd reminds customers to keep Mylar balloons tethered at all times. Keeping Mylar balloons safely away from electrical lines and deflating metallic balloons before disposing of them helps reduce the chance of metallic balloons making contact and causing power outages, fires and possible injuries.

More than 4,000 ComEd customers have been affected by outages caused by Mylar balloons in the last two weeks, including 1,327 customers who were without electricity for four hours Wednesday evening near 99th and Kedzie in the Evergreen Park neighborhood on Chicago's south side. Power outages caused by metallic balloons affected approximately 173,000 ComEd customers in the last five years, including 35,000 customers in 2010.

When Mylar balloons touch a power line or float into substation equipment, their metallic properties cause a surge of electricity. This can cause equipment to short circuit and lead to power outages, fires and possible injuries.

To reduce these outages and help keep customers' lights on, ComEd offers the following tips:

  • Keep balloons tethered at all times and attached to a weight.
  • When disposing of Mylar balloons, make sure to puncture them to ensure lingering helium doesn't cause them to float and blow around if the garbage container is overturned.
  • If a balloon or another toy becomes entangled in an overhead power line, don't attempt to retrieve it. Instead, call ComEd at 800-EDISON-1 (800-334-7661).
  • Always assume power lines are live, and keep yourself, your equipment and all other items at least 10 feet away from power lines.

For more safety tips, visit www.ComEd.com.

Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), one of the nation's largest electric utilities with approximately 5.4 million customers. ComEd provides service to approximately 3.8 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state's population.

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