Please Don't Buy Helium ballons.

About a year ago I did an Outward Bound rock-climbing course through Joshua Tree Nat’l Park in California.

The first time I saw one was when we had just started out on the hike. It was light blue and faded from the sun. I reached down to pick it up, thinking it could be a strange blue rock. It was hard and looked like dried paint. I asked the leader what it was. She told me that it was a helium balloon, “Probably from some kid’s birthday party”.

It escaped the joy having helium sucked out of it before a trip to the landfill, and enjoyed a wonderful flight, high over the streets of Los Angeles, and finally came to settle there, in the pristine wilderness. I saw them everywhere, and was always stopping to pick them up. One for every little kid in Los Angeles that didn’t have someone to tie it around their wrist. A dozen for every stupid wedding that thought it would be symbolic to let balloons fly at the end of the ceremony.

I know I am guilty, and can probably be responsible for a several that settled high in the Cascades. I ask of you, please do not release helium ballons for any reason, be it symbolic or not. Thanks. :slight_smile:

[sub]Just make sure you suck all the helium out, then throw the balloon away. Squeak squeak.[/sub]

That’s a good solution. LEt us all rejoice by sucking helium out of balloons!!

Latex balloons will decompose eventually. The ones that are really evil are the metallized mylar ballons. These can eventually come to rest across power lines which they short circuit rather well and can do tremendous damage thereby.

They’re also fugly, but that is another matter.

OTOH, it’s very difficult to get a mylar balloon to go boom. I hate sudden loud noises!

I bought a radio-controlled balloon. :cool:
It steered (slowly) with fans, but you couldn’t risk it outside.
I used to fly it in the School Library. :smiley:

So, you don’t want the balloons to enjoy the pristine splendor of the wilderness. You want to hog nature all to yourself.

You should be ashamed of your greed. For once, just once, think of how the balloon feels.

I WILL have balloons at my wedding, but won’t release them. Now quit NAGGING!

Oh, go ahead. Poyson the environment.
For myself, I have a hard time viewing balloons as a pressing environmental hazard. For every balloon I’ve seen in the wild, I’ve probably seen 10,000 Budweiser cans. So I don’t give a damn about balloons, but I’d like to pass legislation requiring Annheiser Busch executives to spend their weekends and holidays combing river banks and woods for broken bottles and old beer cans.


I love MI. Cans are essentially big dimes. Some idiot leaves the remains of a six pack in the woods and I get a free snickers.

True, but I love to slice them up with my knife. If you do it quickly enough, the balloon doesn’t even move, it just suddenly has a big slash in the side. It even takes a few seconds to fall to the ground dead.

I’m a ninja balloon-assassin.

Hmmm… This whole story seem highly suspicious to me. I’m not saying you made it up or that the guide didn’t sincerely think that they were helium baloons, but having that many deposited so far from civilization is just hard to accept. There are too many variables involved and too few balloons in the world.

Any Dopers have an alternative explanation?

Bill Norton
Austin, TX

Does this mean the husband and I have to quit with the plans to build a one-person dirigible using helium for lift? I’m mean, it’s essentially just a giant helium balloon…


(Actually, at about 3 grand to fill the damn thing, we probably weren’t going to actually finish and launch the it anyway, but it’s fun to dream…)

George Carlin says that all the released balloons go to the balloon room in west Heaven! That couldn’t have been a balloon you found. Perhaps some balloon shit, but not an actual balloon. We all know that Carlin wouldn’t lie to us. :smiley:

So, you’re saying it was really wrong of me to bring a fatherless boy of ten a one meter in diameter helium filled weather balloon, so he could release it with his own message tied on, when I knew he would be the only child at the party?

You know, the one that hitched all the weather balloons to his lawn chair and got in trouble when he soared into a flight lane (or whatever it is they call those things). And had to pay a big fine to the FAA over it? Alot of balloons died just so he could do that! Are you saying that they died in vain? That he would have been better off if he’d simply stayed on the ground, never daring to fulfill his childhood dream? I think not!

  • Okay, but what brought this on now?
  • I agree with bnorton, it’s incredible that so many balloons could be launched from such great distances and end up on the ground in one spot. What special weather pattern exists in the Joshua Tree region that balloons are sucked towards it? Is it downwind of DisneyWorld?
  • Um, how often has this happened? The amount of conductive material in a mylar balloon is tiny, and the amount of power in the smallest residential electrical line is fairly huge. I’d guess the balloon would burn up damned fast, if it was big enough to touch two power lines, which most balloons aren’t. ~ -And maybe someone else knows for sure, but I recall that the way the mylar is made, the aluminum ends up heavily contaminated with plastic, and so is hardly conductive at all.
  • Didn’t he commit suicide a couple years later? - MC

Also, unlike latex balloons that start squeezing out their helium the instant they’re filled, mylar balloons will hold their helium almost indefinitely, unless someone bats them around.

You can blow your cat’s mind by tying a little toy mouse to the ribbon and letting it float around the house. It’ll work if you balance the load just right.

Can any mylar balloon cause problems with power lines, or just the metallized ones?

Maybe Gallagher would let you borrow his watermelon dirigible?

*Originally posted by MC *

Yep, he sure did, eleven years later. Here’s a page on him.