About Balloons

05/04/09

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Safety Precautions

Helium
Do not inhale helium. Helium displaces oxygen necessary for life and cause headaches, dizziness, labored breathing, and eventual unconsciousness.

Helium is nonflammable, non-explosive, and nontoxic.

Balloons
Balloons are not intended for children under 3 years old. Balloons that have not been inflated can cause suffocation if swallowed.

Never attach balloons to a crib or a child's bed. Balloons with ribbons can cause strangulation of children under 3 years old.

Children should never inflate helium balloons without adult supervision

Always weight balloons and comply with applicable state and federal laws.

Cylinders
Secure all helium cylinders (in excess of 40 lbs.) with a Safety Wall Bracket or a Cylinder Safety Stand.

Following the California Balloon Law

1. Never Use Metallic Ribbons
California law prohibits the use of foil/metallic string or ribbon, or other attachments that conduct electricity, with helium-filled latex or foil balloons, regardless of whether the balloons are for indoor or outdoor use. Foil balloons and ribbon have been known to cause power outages when balloons become entangled in power lines.

2. Use Balloon Weights
Foil Balloons must be attached to an anchor. A variety of attractive plastic weights are available to anchor balloons. The only requirement is that the weights be heavy enough to keep the balloons from floating away.

3. Never Group Foil Balloons
California law bans the grouping of foil balloons. All foil balloons must be individually weighed.

4. Individually Anchor Balloons
California law requires only foil balloons to be weighted. A mixed bouquet of helium-filled latex and foil balloons would require that each foil balloon be individually weighted. Clusters of balloons tied together stand a much greater chance of becoming tangled in power lines.

When a helium-filled foil balloon is sold with latex balloons (as in a delivery arrangement), the balloon strings or ribbons may not be tied to each other. Rather, you should tie the individual foil balloons to an anchor that weights down the group and keeps it from being released accidentally. This ensures the balloon strings will not remain tied together if they are cut off or untied from the weight. 

How to Properly Anchor a Balloon Cluster

The correct way to anchor balloons is to tie each foil balloon individually to the weight. If these balloons are loosened from the weight, they will float away individually, lessening the risk of triggering power outages.

Never tie several foil balloons to one ribbon. If accidentally released from the weight, these balloons will float away in a cluster, creating a much higher risk of entangling on a power line triggering power outages.

Environmental Concerns and Advantages

Balloon Launches
Research shows that after latex balloons are launched, they often rise to an altitude of about 5 miles, where they freeze, breaking into tiny pieces that scatter as they return to earth. While we do know that animals occasionally eat these soft slivers of rubber, the evidence indicates the pieces ultimately will pass though the animal's digestive system without harming the animal.

Sea Mammals
There is no documented evidence that a balloon has ever been responsible for the death of any sea animal. Although many stories have appeared in the press about sea creatures dying from balloons, extensive research by the industry and reporters has yet to verify one such story. In a study of 439 dead sea cows over an 8-year period, Cathy Beck of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not find a single balloon inside a single deceased sea cow.

The most frequently cited case is one in which the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, NJ, found a balloon in the intestinal track of a dead sea turtle. Bob Schoelkopf, the director of the Center, has said himself that the balloon could not be identified as the cause of death.

Biodegradability
Balloons used in releases are made of latex, a 100 percent natural substance that will break down both in sunlight and water. The degradation process begins almost immediately "oxidation", "the frosting" that happens to latex balloons, is one of the first signs of the process. Exposure to sunlight quickens the process, but microorganisms attack natural rubber even in the dark. Under similar environmental conditions, latex balloons will biodegrade at about the same rate as an oak leaf. The actual degradation time will vary depending on the precise conditions, but it can be as short as several weeks.

Litter
Balloons are not a significant litter problem. During a nationwide beach cleanup in 1990, volunteers collected more than 1,300 tons of debris, only 150 pounds of which were balloons.

Environmental Advantages
Rubber trees, from which latex for balloons is harvested, are one of the main forms of vegetation in tropical rain forests, which in recent years have become crucial to maintaining the earth's fragile ecological balance. Harvesting latex can be a more profitable alternative for countries with rain forests than raising cattle on the deforested land. Even the latex used in balloon manufacturing that comes from plantations instead of the rain forest helps the ecosystem, as the natural biology of the trees helps maintain our atmosphere and protect the ozone layer.

 

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This site was last updated 05/04/09