By Wendy Osher
Maui Electric Company is reminding the public to hang on to their shiny metallic balloons this graduation season.
MECO officials say the metallic foil balloons could potentially cause an outage when they become entangled in energized power lines.
In addition to the inconvenience of a power outage, metallic balloons entangled in overhead power lines also pose a safety hazard to electrical crews who need to remove them to restore the power, said MECO officials.
“Graduation is a joyous time and we want to be sure that our customers understand the potential hazards involved with metallic balloons,” said MECO President Sharon Suzuki. “It’s our job to keep the lights on and ensure the safety of our workers and our customers.”
MECO is asking the public to always attach a weight heavy enough to hold the balloon down and never release balloons into the sky. Many retailers already sell balloons with weights attached to reduce the chance of accidentally releasing them into the sky.
If a balloon is caught in a power line, do NOT attempt to climb a utility pole or pull the string to recover it. Call MECO to report it on Maui at 871-7777, Lanai and Molokai at 1-877-871-8461.
Graduation ceremonies on Maui begin with King Kekaulike on Thursday, May 17 at 6 p.m. at the school stadium. That will be followed by Molokai and Baldwin on Friday, May 18; Hana, Lanai and Maui High on Saturday, May 19; and Lahainaluna on Sunday, May 20.
Additional Maui ceremonies include Kihei Charter School Graduation at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, May 25, at the Wailea Marriott Kahoolawe Lawn, and Maui Community Schools for Adults graduation at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 23, at the Baldwin High Auditorium.