Balloons Cause Arcing Power Lines, Power Outage Near Arthur Ave and Central Rd Arlington Heights


Explosion caught on video when Mylar balloons made contact with power lines (SOURCE: Long Beach Local News). YouTube Tips ⓘ

Police, firefighters, and paramedics from Arlington Heights responded about 8:51 p.m. Sunday, April 16, 2023 to a report of a power line arcing and a possible blown transformer at Central Road and Arthur Avenue in Arlington Heights. There was also a report that a vehicle might be on fire, but that detail was inaccurate.

Arlington Heights Fire Department Tower 1’s crew on arrival reported that balloons brought power lines down in the area, and that there was no car fire at the scene. Initially, it was unknown if the balloons were Mylar balloons or balloons with metallic streamers.

ComEd arrived immediately, and Tower 1 reported ComEd had the situation under control by 9:00 p.m. A large power outage occurred east, west and north of the area, but repairs were completed by ComEd within a few hours.

Helium-filled metallic balloons, sometimes known as Mylar balloons can drift into power lines where high-voltage electricity can arc across the balloons. The arcing can cause short circuits, burn wires and interrupt service to ComEd customers.

If you see a downed power line, do not approach the power line or touch the line or any person or object in contact with the downed line. Also, the ground near the power line can be energized, and walking too close to the downed power line could cause injury or death. If you think you are in a situation where you are too close to a power line, shuffle or slide your feet (maintaining feet on the ground) to move away. Don’t pick up your feet with large steps. The difference in electricity potential from one step to the next step could cause a shock or electrocution. Generally, electricity energy dissipates further from the source of the downed power line. If you run or take large steps, you could conduct electricity from one leg at one voltage on the ground to another leg at different voltage, which increases the chance of severe injury or even death.

If you see a downed power line, call 911 and inform the operator there is an electrical emergency. The 9-1-1 center will want to know if the power line is arcing or if flames are showing, and will need you to confirm the address of the emergency.

Do not attempt to retrieve a balloon – or any foreign object – tangled in power lines. Notify ComEd instead.

Power outages from balloon contact with power lines can last from a few minutes to several hours, which can cause power outages at residences and business, and can cause inoperable traffic signals.

Keep metallic balloons indoors, and never release them outside.

Never attach metallic streamers to any balloon – whether the balloons are latex or metallic.

Secure a helium-filled balloon with a weight heavy enough to prevent it from drifting away and coming in contact with high-voltage lines and interrupting service. (In some areas, it may be unlawful to sell metallic balloons without a string weight.)

The information in this article is an early report published before any summary information was confirmed or released by police or fire authorities or witness on the scene.


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