Mylar Balloon Disrupts Service to 7,000 Customers in Chicago’s South Suburbs

March 19, 2009

In 2008, metallic balloons accounted for 52 outages affecting 30,586 customers

CALUMET CITY, Ill., March 19 /PRNewswire/ — This morning, a stray Mylar balloon floated into a ComEd substation and disrupted service to 6,945 customers in Chicago’s south suburbs. The outage is a reminder of the harm that metallic balloons pose to electrical equipment and the need to control these balloons.

When Mylar balloons touch a power line or piece of substation equipment, their metallic properties cause a surge of electricity. The equipment short-circuits, which can then lead to power outages, fires and possible injuries.

This morning’s outage began at 10 a.m. and affected roughly 5,000 customers in Calumet City and about 1,000 each in Burnham and Lansing. All customers were restored by 11:37 a.m.

In 2008, metallic balloons caused 52 outages affecting a total of 30,586 customers. The 2008 outages with the four largest customer counts were as follows:

  • 7,383 customers on July 7 in Bridgeview, Crestwood, Hickory Hills, Orland Park, Palos Hills, Palos Park, Tinley Park and Worth.
  • 4,059 customers on Dec. 7 in Bellwood, Bensenville, Chicago, Franklin Park, Northlake, River Grove and Schiller Park.
  • 3,452 customers on March 27 in Chicago Heights, Lansing, Olympia Fields, Park Forest and South Chicago Heights.
  • 1,167 customers on Dec. 27 in Barrington, Barrington Hills, Hoffman Estates, Inverness and South Barrington.

The problem is most prominent in the spring and summer due to graduations and outdoor parties. ComEd offers several suggestions to help keep customers’ lights on:

  • Keep metallic and all other types of balloons indoors and away from overhead power lines. (Even non-metallic balloons can become entangled in lines and cause an outage.)
  • Keep balloons tethered at all times.
  • Never use balloons, kites, model airplanes and other toys near overhead power lines.
  • 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. Always keep yourself, your equipment and all other items, including toys, at least 10 feet away from power lines. NEVER assume that a power line is safe to touch.

For other safety tips, 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.


Source: newswire

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