HECO urges public to be careful with metallic balloons, confetti cannons during graduation season

Hawaiian Electric says metallic streamers sprayed from a confetti cannon onto power lines caused an outage that affected about 300 customers in the Keeaumoku area early Tuesday.

The outage occurred at about 1:15 a.m., affecting residences and businesses around Samsung Plaza on Keeaumoku Street. A Hawaiian Electric troubleshooter arrived and found metallic streamers that had fallen onto an electric transformer. Witnesses said someone used an air cannon to shoot the streamers onto power lines above the transformer.

A crew was called to remove the streamers from the lines and power was restored to most customers by 3:15 a.m.

With school graduations underway, the Hawaiian Electric Companies are urging the public to hold onto metallic balloons and to never release balloons or other items near power lines.

Last year, metallic balloons entangled in power lines caused 30 outages, affecting 42,161 customers in the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ service areas.

Here is the breakdown of metallic balloon outages in 2016:

  • 25 on Oahu affecting 37,221 customers
  • Three in Maui County affecting 3,977
  • Two on Hawaii Island affecting 963

These balloon-related outages spike in May and June during graduation season. Since 2008, there has been an average of 16 outages each year on Oahu. Last year’s 25 incidents on Oahu nearly hit the record 26 set in 2013.

Metallic balloons and streamers can cause a short circuit and knock out power to an entire neighborhood. In February, a metallic balloon came into contact with power lines in Kahului, which caused an outage that affected 17,310 customers.

Keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Make sure the balloon’s string or ribbon is securely tied to it.
  • Add a weight to the end of the string or ribbon.
  • Never release balloons into the sky or shoot anything at a power line.
  • Deflate balloons after your celebration.

Anyone spotting a metallic balloon in a power line should not try to free it. It can be reported by calling the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ trouble lines:

  • Hawaiian Electric at 1-855-304-1212
  • Maui Electric at 808-871-7777 (Maui) or 877-871-8461 (Molokai, Lanai)
  • Hawaii Electric Light at 808-969-6666

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