Good Balloon Habits

Since 1991, The Balloon Council (TBC) actively has been helping retailers, distributors and manufacturers keep their businesses in a positive light by battling against misinformation and negative publicity. As business people, you know nothing could hurt your earning potential more than poorly thought out habits.

Establishing good balloon practices in your store is one of the best ways to prevent regulators and state legislators from imposing new, and possibly harsh, restrictions on the balloon industry, which in turn affects your bottom line.

In the Beginning:

In 1990, California enacted a law regulating the use of helium-filled mylar balloons. The law was intended to reduce power outages and was written in cooperation with the balloon industry. TBC now endorses its requirements as “good balloon practices” for balloon retailers across the entire country.

Since the California law went into effect, four other states – Connecticut, Florida, Tennessee and Virginia – have passed balloon laws, but these apply to latex balloons. The Connecticut law prohibits the release of 10 or more helium-filled or other lighter-than-air gas-filled balloons within a 24-hour period. The Florida law is considered to be the most restrictive of the four laws passed in 1990. That law disallows the release of 10 or more balloons filled with helium or other lighter-than-air gas within a 24-hour period and the balloons must be biodegradable or photodegradable as determined by rule of the Marine Fisheries Commission. The commission doesn’t tell you which balloons they approve of, which makes balloon releases almost impossible in Florida. The Tennessee law is similar to Florida’s except that it prohibits the release of more than 25 balloons that are filled with helium or other lighter-than-air gas. Balloons must also be biodegradable for release in Tennessee. The Virginia law prohibits the release of 50 or more balloons within a one hour period.

The Battle for Rights:

In the years that followed the passing of the five laws, TBC has led the battle to defeat nine other bills in states such as Washington, Wisconsin, and New Jersey, and has been keeping a close eye on active bills in the New York and Massachusetts state houses.

With no guarantee that other bills in other states will not come up in the future, the importance of self-regulation by adopting good balloon habits cannot be overstated.

These guidelines are relatively simple to put into effect, and more importantly, they will help protect your profit margin by lessening the chances of negative publicity, tougher regulation or legislation harming balloon sales.

Getting Tied Up and Down:

Metallic string or ribbon – or attachments that conduct electricity – never should be used with helium-filled latex or metallic balloons. Research shows that metallic ribbons increase the chances of electrical problems or power outages if balloons become entangled in power lines.

Keeping Your Balloon Grounded:

Metallic balloons should be attached to an anchor such as an inexpensive plastic weight, coffee mug or stuffed animal so they will not accidentally float away.

Metallic balloons should have both a printed warning of possible danger from contact with electric power lines and identification of the manufacturer. Most balloons produced in the U.S. already carry such notices.

When a helium-filled metallic balloon is sold with other balloons (as in a delivery arrangement), the balloon strings or ribbons should not be tied to each other. Rather, the balloons should be individually tied to an anchor that weighs down each and keeps it from accidentally being released.

Research shows that clusters of balloons tied together – as opposed to loose single strings – stand a much greater chance of becoming entangled in power lines, thereby increasing the likelihood of electrical problems or outages.

A Few Things to Remember:

Since keeping your bottom line healthy and stopping restrictive legislation both are important, we need to practice common sense when delivering or selling balloons. You and your employees should remind customers not to release helium-filled mylar balloons or attach metallic strings or ribbons. A few good habits can go a long way to making your business successful.

(The Balloon Council is a coalition of manufacturers, distributors and retailers working together to educate the public on balloon issues.)