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Top three tips for saving helium in your retail stores

Do you find yourself going through more helium than normal or using more than you think you should be? On the wake of another shortage, providers are starting to send out helium allocation letters, alerting companies that they won’t be receiving the amount of helium that they ordered. So, make sure your employees are taking the right steps to ensure you’re saving helium rather than wasting it, especially when supplies are tightening.

Use these three incredibly easy tips as an educational checklist for your staff and reinforce them daily until they become a subconscious part of everyone’s daily routine.

Turn the helium tanks off between uses. This is akin to leaving your refrigerator door open in-between pulling items out to make your sandwich. It seems to make plain sense, yet we all can get a bit lazy and just leave that door open instead of closing and re-opening each time. Fact is, your fridge temperature starts rising as soon as that door is open and will quickly keep climbing each second you have it ajar. The same thing happens with your helium tanks. You may be filling balloons and a customer walks up, or the phone rings, or some other quick task catches your eye and you think, “I’ll be right back, I don’t have to close the valve.” Well, you don’t have to close it — but you should. Like the cold air in your fridge, as long as that valve on your tank is open, helium is escaping. Maybe just for a few seconds, maybe for a minute or more. Those losses add up quickly and you can lose a lot of helium over time by not taking the few seconds of effort to close that valve in between filling balloons.

Turn the helium tanks off every night. Obvious one here, right? We all understand you or your staff has a full checklist that you have to go through when you close up shop each night. When you consider cash registers, safes, doors, and windows all need to be locked up and secured, something less important like your helium tanks can easily be forgotten. So yes, on paper this is an obvious one. But in the rush of closing up and wanting to get home to your families, helium tanks often go unchecked. Assign the task of checking to make sure all the valves are closed to one or two employees. Once it becomes part of their nightly routine, you won’t even have to worry about it. That way you can focus on closing up, knowing that while you’re protecting your store, you’re also saving helium costs.

Check your O-rings. These are the small rubber rings that form the seal on your helium regulators when you close the valve. If your O-ring is old and worn out, or just has a small nick or crack, you can be sure that you’re losing helium from your tank. Helium’s tiny molecules can permeate microscopic pores easily — this is why helium balloons deflate over time. So, a nick or crack in your O-ring that is visible to your naked eye will be a source of a lot of lost helium. So check your O-rings every couple of weeks or so and be sure to have plenty of replacements on-hand. They’re an incredibly cheap item to have around in bulk and are one of the most important keys to saving helium.

Zephyr Solutions, based in Avon, Ohio, is a national supplier of helium and other industrial gases to the retail market. While other companies are focused across many channels such as medical and industrial, at Zephyr, the retail segment is our focus and priority. Let Zephyr Solutions assist in your efforts to drive balloon sales in your floral departments with a leadership helium program. Visit Zephyr Solutions at the International Floriculture Expo in Chicago June 25-27 at Booth No. 5626.

For more information, go to www.askzephyr.com.

Tim Meskill is national sales representative at Zephyr Solutions in Avon, Ohio. He can be contacted at tmeskill@askzephyr.com.