Hot Air Ballooning Safety
Living in New Mexico allows us the unique opportunity for year-round hot air ballooning. And once a year, every October, the skies are painted with hundreds of balloons during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. In the unfortunate event that a balloon comes in contact with a power line, pole, or other electrical equipment, it’s important to know that touching a balloon wrapped in power lines could cause a chain reaction that can injure those attempting to provide help, as well as everybody inside the balloon's gondola. Electricity seeks the nearest path to ground, which means an energized line that poses no danger to a balloon hanging on one wire could become deadly for everyone involved if a single onlooker touches the ground and the balloon or a tether at the same time.
The most important message for onlookers is, if you see a balloon entangled in powerlines, do not approach. Call 911 immediately, and then call PNM at 888-DIAL-PNM. Our natural instincts are to jump in and assist, but the safest thing for onlookers and everyone inside the balloon is to stay away and call for help.
Police and Fire departments
PNM hosts an annual Balloon/Power Line Safety Demo right before Balloon Fiesta each year, to cover how PNM responds in this type of situation, and discuss how fire and police departments can work safely with PNM to assist in this scenario. If you are a First Responder, click here for general information on how to help PNM respond in this situation, as well as for information on the next scheduled safety demo.