Potato Chip Bags, Shiny Balloons, and the Electric Grid: What You Need to Know This Valentine’s Day
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Potato Chip Bags, Shiny Balloons, and the Electric Grid: What You Need to Know This Valentine’s Day

How much damage can a potato chip bag cause? More than you would think. On a blustery day last spring, a potato chip bag blew into a Delmarva Power facility in Salisbury, Md., damaging the electric equipment and knocking out service for nearly 2,600 customers. These types of outages are preventable and the ill-fated story of a little potato chip bag in Salisbury should serve as a timely reminder for those looking to impress that special someone with a shiny balloon this Valentine’s Day.

You may be wondering why we are talking about potato chip bags around Valentine’s Day. The answer: foil coating. Foil coating found on some potato chip bags is also found on those shiny balloons you see on Valentine’s Day. When it contacts power lines or electrical equipment, its metallic properties can cause a surge of electricity that disrupts power and damages equipment. In fact, untethered balloons cause hundreds of unnecessary service interruptions for our customers each year.

If your Valentine’s Day involves a shiny foil balloon, or two, here are some tips to follow:

  • Always keep balloons tethered and attached to weights.
  • Properly dispose of foil-coated balloons by puncturing them to release helium that otherwise could cause them to float away.
  • If your grip does happen to slip, NEVER touch a power line or attempt to retrieve a balloon that is entangled in an overhead power line. For assistance, call us at 1-800-898-8042.

So, whether it’s a potato chip bag or a shiny balloon in your hands this Valentine’s Day, take the extra step to secure it properly. Take it from us, your date won’t be impressed if you cause a power outage in their neighborhood.