The lights dim and the sparks fly, not because your sweetie set a romantic Valentine's Day mood, but rather because somebody let loose their shiny balloons that hit power lines.

"Balloons may seem like small harmless things," Rocky Mountain Power’s vice president of operations Curt Mansfield said in a news release.

"But when Mylar balloons touch power lines, the metal material is conductive," Mansfield said. "This causes power fluctuations and outages.”

Last year, Rocky Mountain Power recorded nearly 60 outages related to Mylar balloons that affected nearly 16,000 customers.

Besides the inconvenience to customers, balloon-related outages often cause damage to equipment, requiring costly repairs.

“This may not seem like many in our three-state territory – but these outages are easily preventable,” Mansfield said. “We’re just asking people to be more careful in how they handle balloons in an effort to keep customers from being inconvenienced.”

To minimize the potential dangers, Rocky Mountain Power offers these suggestions for Valentine's Day, Mardi Gras, birthdays and other celebrations:

  • Keep the balloons indoors where they can’t rise into overhead power lines or drift into contact with transformers or substations.
  • Make sure the string for each balloon is securely attached and short enough to control its direction.
  • Attach a weight to the balloon’s string so it cannot float away; and never intentionally release metallic balloons.
  • Deflate balloons after the holiday and keep as a memento or dispose of properly. Birds and squirrels have been known to carry balloon remnants onto lines.
  • Never chase a loose balloon across streets or attempt to retrieve a balloon from a power line or substation.

If you notice a balloon near a power line, do not try to retrieve it, but report it to Rocky Mountain Power by calling 1-888-221-7070.

Finally, have a happy, short-circuit-free Valentine's Day.

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