Wintertime Tips for Helium Inflatables
You don't see helium-filled inflatables used outdoors as frequently in the wintertime. That's because helium behaves differently as the weather turns cold. When the temperature falls helium contracts making it difficult (but not impossible) to use. If you need your helium inflatables for parades or for indoor fairs or exhibits patience is going to be the key. Here are some tips that will help you remain afloat.
- After you've connected the tube from your inflatable to the helium tank, open the tank very slowly. Helium is stored under extreme pressure. Releasing this gas quickly can damage your balloon.
- Open the helium tank slowly (only about half-way) until the balloon fills to at least 50% capacity. In cold weather the gases can freeze the sides of the balloon to each other if inflation isn't paced.
- When your balloon is about 75% filled, begin to slow the rate of helium you add. In cold weather, the balloon's material can become stiff and crack or tear if it isn't allowed time to adjust to the temperature. Take the remaining 25% of the inflation in three stages. Inflate slowly then allow the balloon to rest for several minutes. Add a little more helium and allow the balloon to rest. Then complete the inflation. This process provides time for the material to stretch without danger of tearing.
Also remember that standard protocols for inflating with helium will still apply regardless of the time of year.
Select a site that is clear of power lines, buildings, trees, and other potential dangers. If you'll be indoors, keep an eye out for ceiling lights and ceiling fans that might cause damage to your balloon.
To begin your inflation, lay out a tarp underneath the balloon for added protection during the initial phases.
Find your tether points. You should anchor your inflatable to objects that are heavy and sturdy. Tie off points will need to hold three times the lift force of the balloon itself due to wind and other factors.
Once the balloon is fully inflated and tethered, it can be released into the air! NEVER allow the tether line to slide through your bare hands during the launch. This can cause serious rope burns. Always wear gloves for protection.
After inflation, rain, ice and snow will not hurt the material of your inflatable. However, the added weight will reduce the lift and affect the flying performance. Rain should not be a serious problem, but accumulating ice and snow will be so it is advisable to keep a cautious eye on helium inflatables during foul weather.
Helium balloons are an enchanting part of the holiday season. With a few precautions and some additional planning you can enjoy helium-filled inflatables all year long.