With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, many people will celebrate with helium-filled metallic balloons. PG&E urges customers to securely tie a weight to all metallic balloons containing helium to prevent them from floating away. Metallic balloons that contact overhead power lines can disrupt electric service to an entire neighborhood, cause significant property damage and potentially result in serious injuries.
Last year, metallic balloons that drifted into PG&E power lines caused more than 300 outages, affecting electric service to nearly 165,000 homes and businesses throughout Northern and Central California. Sometimes these outages interrupt electric service to important facilities such as hospitals, schools and traffic lights.
(Click here to read a Currents story and see a video from 2013 on the damage that can result from metallic balloons coming into contact with power lines.)
“There’s always plenty of electricity in the air on Valentine’s Day, but we need your help to secure metallic balloons to make sure they stay close to your loved ones and away from power lines,” said Jason Regan PG&E’s director of Emergency Management and Response. “Mylar balloons can cause energized wires to fall to the ground posing a serious safety risk, so with Valentine’s Day and other celebrations it is important to take precautions if you are including them as part of your festivities.”
The number of power outages caused by metallic balloons in PG&E’s service area has more than doubled over the past decade. In order to significantly reduce this number and to help ensure that everyone can safely enjoy their Valentine’s Day, PG&E reminds customers to follow these important safety tips for metallic balloons:
- “Look Up and Live!” Use caution and avoid celebrating with metallic balloons near overhead electric lines.
- Make sure helium-filled metallic balloons are securely tied to a weight that is heavy enough to prevent them from floating away. Never remove the weight.
- When possible, keep metallic balloons indoors. Never permit metallic balloons to be released outside, for everyone’s safety.
- Do not bundle metallic balloons together.
- Never attempt to retrieve any type of balloon, kite or toy that becomes caught in a power line. Leave it alone, and immediately call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000 to report the problem.
- Never go near a power line that has fallen to the ground or is dangling in the air. Always assume downed electric lines are energized and extremely dangerous. Stay far away, keep others away and immediately call 911 to alert the police and fire departments.