Posts tagged “safety

Metallic balloons and power lines don’t mix

black and red metal rod

By Patrick McIntyre, CSU Energy Coordinator

With social distancing in place because of the COVID-19 outbreak, people are finding new ways to celebrate events and milestones without the typical parties and get-togethers.

And what’s a birthday or graduation without balloons, especially those shiny, helium-filled foil balloons that are all the rage. They are called Mylar balloons and come in various shapes and sizes and can represent numbers and letters.

Unfortunately, they can also be hazardous.

When released, these festive balloons can get caught in high voltage power lines. The metallic coating conducts electricity and causes short circuits when entangled in power lines.

Stray Mylar balloons entangled in overhead lines in the last week caused two electric outages for hundreds of College Station residents. Such disruptions can cover a large area for two hours or more while we clear the balloons and repair damaged equipment.

Power outages not only inconvenience our customers, but they also jeopardize public safety and cause lost revenue for businesses. Two years ago, a stray balloon caused an outage and lengthy delay during a Major League Baseball game at Dodger Stadium.

This recent report by an Arizona news station illustrates the issue:

College Station Utilities offers five tips to help prevent outages when celebrating birthdays, graduations and other events with Mylar balloons:

  1. Never allow Mylar balloons to be released outside. Keep the balloons indoors when possible.
  2. Make sure Mylar balloons are securely tied to a weight heavy enough to keep them from floating away. Never remove the weight.
  3. Don’t bundle Mylar balloons together.
  4. When your celebration is over, cut the balloons up and throw them away. Even a semi-inflated balloon can become airborne.
  5. Never try to retrieve anything that gets caught in a power line.

To report objects caught in power lines, call 911. To report outages, call 855-528-4278, and have your account number ready.


0000072EPAbout the Blogger

CSU Energy Coordinator Patrick McIntyre is responsible for energy conservation and key accounts programs. Pat joined CSU as a key accounts representative in 2009. He previously worked for 17 years in the manufacturing sector and eight years as a consultant with the Texas Engineering Extension Service. Pat graduated from Texas A&M in 1982 with B.S. in Industrial Distribution and has lived in the area since 1984.



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Public Works’ new truck engineered to save lives


By Wally Urrutia, Solid Waste Division Manager

Working on and around roadways and heavy trucks has always been a hazardous job. Thankfully, as technology evolves, our equipment is becoming safer.

The Public Works Department’s new attenuator truck is designed to save lives and lessen the risk of injury in work zones. The mounted device — also known as a crash cushion — absorbs the kinetic injury created by colliding vehicles, reducing the damage to vehicles and the injuries to motorists and workers.

Here’s a closer look at how it works:

The attenuator has become a necessary safety device for highway work zones across the country and will be shared by all divisions in our department.

Since our workers don’t have a giant, friendly Transformer to protect them from harm, we now have the next best thing.


About the Blogger

Solid Waste Division Manager Wally Urrutia is in his 32nd year with the City of College Station. He was named Solid Waste Manager of the Year in 2016 by the Texas Public Works Association.


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Recipe for a successful Thanksgiving? Don’t set your house on fire

By Carter Hall, CSFD Firefighter

Thanksgiving is a day of gratitude, family, friends, and, of course, delicious food. No surprise: All of us with the College Station Fire Department are thankful when everyone practices holiday safety in the kitchen, since Thanksgiving is the leading day for home-cooking fires.

In fact, the United States averages 1,800 cooking fires every Thanksgiving Day. That’s three times the number of fires occurring on any other day of the year, which is why these simple safety tips are so important:

  • Never leave unattended food on the stove or in the oven.
  • Avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing and long sleeves while cooking because those can easily catch fire.
  • Keep children at least three feet away from the cooking area; watch them closely if they insist on being mini-chefs.
  • Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over toys, shoes or other objects.
  • Keep flammable items, like potholders and paper or plastic bags, away from the stove and oven.
  • Turn pan handles toward the back of the stove to prevent accidental knock-overs.
  • Have activities that keep kids out of the kitchen during this busy time. Games, puzzles or books are great options.
  • Involve kids in Thanksgiving preparations with recipes that can be followed outside the kitchen.
  • Make sure you have a working smoke alarm on each level of the home, including inside and outside bedrooms.

Also, keep safety in mind when using a turkey fryer because a fire can get out of hand in less than a minute.

If fried turkey is your Thanksgiving tradition, only use a fryer outside and safely away from your home – not inside your garage and not on your porch. Don’t overfill the oil in your turkey fryer, and always keep an eye on the bird when it’s cooking in the oil.

From all the dedicated men and women at College Station Fire Department who work to protect lives and property – especially on Thanksgiving Day – we hope your hearts and stomachs are full, and your holiday is safe.


Carter Hall has been a firefighter with the College Station Fire Department since 2011.


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