Skip to comments.California Targets New Menace: Helium-Filled Foil Balloons
Posted on 07/15/2008 1:50:31 PM PDT by MissouriConservative
California state Sen. Jack Scott says he didn't intend to "be a party pooper." It's just that helium-filled foil balloons -- like those found at hospital gift shops and office parties -- are dangerous. They float into electric lines and cause power outages, more than 800 in California last year, utilities say.
He drafted a bill to ban foil balloons; it sailed through the state Senate and now awaits a vote in the Assembly.
The pro-balloon people are hoping that even if the bill does pass, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will veto it. At a recent news conference, the governor commented that he couldn't get the legislature to work on the now-overdue state budget. A member of the audience joked that they'd been too busy outlawing balloons.
"Oh yes, a very important law," mocked Gov. Schwarzenegger. "Let's outlaw the balloons. Let's punish the people again."
Mr. Scott, however, insists balloons pose a real danger and must be stopped no matter how unpopular the move may be. "It's not my intention to ruin birthday parties, but children will inevitably let these balloons go up into the air and that's a threat.
In California, the balloon industry has come under regulatory scrutiny before. In 1990, it became the only state to pass a law requiring that helium-filled foil balloons be sold with a weight affixed to them, such as a bag of chocolates or a coffee mug. Under Mr. Scott's bill, someone selling a helium-filled foil balloon on a string could be fined $100.
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All I can say is...what have we become?
How about a ban on helium-filled politicians?
If this is true about the ballons causing power outages, I do not see the problem with this bill? In fact I would support it.
Silly me thought California had a budget crisis...but I guess the most that they have to worry about is helium filled foil balloons...the scurge of mankind from they say.
How I wish the problems were this lame.
It sure sounds like micro-management of society when they get into issues like balloons.
They float into electric lines and cause power outages, more than 800 in California last year, utilities say
I’d really have to see the data on that one. With the amount of open air vs. the amount of space an electric line takes up in it, I can’t see this being even remotely possible.
I’m seriously afraid to ask the question...”What’s next?”
I'll wait for the Mythbusters episode before I accept that.
My wife had some from a party but she has tossed them. I wanted to check their conductibility myself.
Balloons and changing weather - man, those liberals are deep thinkers!
they’re filled with methane
Sorry, but my BS meter pegged on that one.
EVEN IF the foil is conductive
It cannot span any two lines, except maybe on top of a pole transformer.
It's filled with helium
So it's not likely to land on TOP of a transformer, where most terminals are.
EVEN IF the string is conductive
If it spans two HV lines, it cannot conduct current for more than a few milliseconds before it vaporizes, not likely to trip a breaker anywhere.
Somebody's blowing smoke here.
When helium balloons are outlawed, only outlaws will have helium balloons (or methane, whatever)
I do not believe these mylar balloons can short out a power line. They are not big enough. One day we had a dust devil that had picked up some trash in the neighborhood, including an aluminum roofing panel two feet wide and eight feet long. The wind dropped the aluminum panel neatly across both wires of the powerline, and that was most highly amusing.
Me too. How many vehicles run into those same poles?
“Me too. How many vehicles run into those same poles?”
In my neighborhood we get at least one squirrel blackout a year...fries the little devils crispy.
So I guess we’re gonna ban squirrels now?
There were 800 power outages caused by these balloons. How many small businesses suffered lost time or lost computer data? How many hospitals had to go on emergency generators, perhaps risking patients’ safety? How many extra police man-hours did cities have to pay for to provide intersection control and increased patrols? If we’ve learned anything in the last few months, it’s how vital energy is to our economy. If balloons are actually causing this many outages, ban ‘em. Besides, balloons are about as stupid a gift as there is. Takes no thought whatsoever to grab a balloon at the grocery store. A meaningless gesture that is apparently hurting the economy.
There aluminum coated mylar. The aluminum is on the inside. They wouldn’t conduct on the outside. Since the coating is only a couple of molecules thick, the aluminum would immediately burn off if subjected to any current.
When foil helium balloons are outlawed...
In my neighborhood we say that whenever a squirrel farts the power goes out.
I finally got fed up with it and now have an 18,000 watt generator that runs the whole place, hot tub and all. We call him Sparky.
This is right up there with the House discussing monkey bites two weeks ago. Nancy Pelosi wasn’t there. Much too beneath her, but....well, what can we say, it’s California. Who do the California Senators have as role models? I rest my case.
Apparently that is NOT true.
John and Ken of KFI640 had been talking about this awhile age. Read though a list of things that cause power outages. No balloons. Now, weather can and does cause power outages, but there were NO BALLOONS!!!
Makes me wonder who has it in for the balloon industry in California?
Well, CA could force manufacturers to put RFID tags on each balloon, so if it causes a power outage they can track down the manufacturer and /or the retailer AND the customer who bought the balloon, and all would be heavily fined...just kidding (or not???!!! Yikes, these morons would actually try something like that).
People are going to eat the chocolate and throw away the wrapper or until the cup and drink coffee from it.
They should be required to sell a square brick with it. And encourage people to huff the helium so that the balloon never flies away.
There is a home-videot out there of a kid releasing a mylar balloon very close to some power lines.
Believe it or not, the balloon hit the power lines and caused an arc that sent people screaming.
It’s true, it’s possible and it does happen with some frequency.
“and you damn kids keep offa my lawn!”
Common sense and a little education is all you need.
Power lines come in two types. Those that carry one side of a circuit and those that carry the other.
These lines are nowhere near each other for obvious reasons.
Should a balloon with a string get entangled one a power line, in order for it to cause a problem, it would need to contact the line AND a ground source. The only one I could think of near a power line would be a tree. If that is the case, then people are releasing these balloons very near the base of the tree. This seems even less likely than the string conducting electricity. Even if all components of this scenario came together, the result would very, very likely be only a burnt balloon. Not a power outage. Think of birds and squirrels on the lines. Only when they contact ground (such as a tree) do they get fried and even then there is rarely a loss of power.
“How about a ban on helium-filled politicians?”
They float into oil drilling plans, causing power outages.
If 800 baloons caused power outages in California, how many were caused by squirrels, how many by fried birds, and how many by other circumstances?
Or are they saying 800 power outages and implying they were all caused by balloons?
Using a hammer to kill a mosquito on your hand. Maybe they should try a public education or warning labels.
Fifteen years ago the People’s Republic of CA banned smoking at Candlestick Park, home of the SF Giants. For those who don’t know, Candlestick was an open ball park in an area of CA where the wind never fell below 20 mph.
By comparison, a ban of tin balloons, which actually cause ocassional damage is positively brilliant, for CA that is.
That gas don’t float it just STINKS !
I know the feeling. Sitting quietly and BAM...darkness. I have a bumper sticker that I have yet to apply...”Squirrels, Nature’s Little Speed Bumps”...
***My wife had some from a party but she has tossed them. I wanted to check their conductibility myself.***
By making them float into power lines?
Ban all helium, use methane for the balloons instead. No one will huff those.
Actually, pure methane is odourless and lighter than air.
Its true, its possible and it does happen with some frequency.
This may just as easily have been induction causing the spark and not an actual contact. I which case there is no threat.
More info from http://www.oru.com/energyandsafety/safety/metalfoilballoons.html
Metal foil balloons and metallic ribbon conduct electricity, and when they become entangled in power lines or electrical equipment they can cause power outages for large numbers of customers. Some simple safety precautions can minimize the serious danger these decorations pose.
Never Use Metallic Ribbons
Foil/metallic string or ribbon, or other attachments that conduct electricity, should never be used with helium-filled latex or foil balloons, regardless of whether the balloons are for indoor or outdoor use.
Use Balloon Weights
Foil or mylar balloons should be attached to an anchor that is heavy enough to keep them from floating away. Never release helium-filled metal foil balloons into the air intentionally.
Never Group Foil Balloons
All foil balloons should be individually anchored. Clusters of balloons tied together stand a much greater chance of becoming entangled in power lines.
I can picture the scene now...lol. A man in a bright colored costume with big floppy shoes is standing next to a cow. A little boy or girl walks up and requests a big methane filled balloon...clown guy walks over to cow and dispenses methane into the balloon....lol.
Happy cows come from California.
I was planning on having a string attached with a key on the end. ;^)
...on our next episode of “Nanny State” we have pending legislation that if you pass gass, you must call Al Gore and warn the atmosphere, or risk a $50 fine.
Nanny State, a new ABC reality show where the Government tells you 100% what to do.
The latest is trans fats in SF; banning cigarette sales in drugstores, no outdoor smoking, helmets, global warming...it never ends.
You could also study lightning that way.
Its not terrorists lighting fires, its helium balloons. check
Its not terrorists putting fecal Salmonella on America’s food supply, its tomatoes gone bad, then jalapenos. check
Its not terrorists sneaking over the border, its just future voters. check
When I lived in TX that happened to me 3 times in one year!
That's one of the most used excuses a utility worker will tell a customer when they screw something up. I used to work with the phone company, so I know this first hand. During my first month on the job, we were having trouble getting a DSL to come up for a customer. Turns out, one of the techs in the office had it wired wrong. I told the customer what had happened when we finally got it going, and one of the techs pulled my aside afterwards and told me to "never admit wrongdoing, just tell them a squirrel got in the cable"
Next time you hear a 'squirrel story' your BS meter should tick up a notch. lol
I believe the bulk of the balloon industry is in North Dakota, not California.
Is there any evidence that the wildfires in California are arson? Or are you just a little too clever?