PG&E cautions lovebirds — metallic balloons disrupt power lines
SAN FRANCISCO – Valentine’s Day is only a few days away and couples across California are busy making elaborate romantic plans that entail staying at home. But if those Covid-19-friendly, stay-at-home plans involve metallic balloons, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is reminding all of its customers to celebrate responsibly.
If balloons—particularly metallic ones—come into contact with overhead power lines, they can disrupt electric service, cause significant property damage and potentially result in serious injuries. So, make sure to keep your Valentine’s Day balloons inside and weighted down.
Last year, metallic balloons were the cause of 453 power outages across PG&E’s service area in Northern and Central California, disrupting electric service to more than 250,000 homes and businesses. This is nearly a 30 percent increase in balloon-caused outages from 2019.
This year, due to the pandemic, only 21 percent of people celebrating Valentine’s Day are planning an evening out, the lowest in 17 years, according to a National Retail Federation survey. As more and more people celebrate at home, creativity is taking center stage and balloons are a fun way to liven up February 14 celebrations. But if used improperly they can certainly put a damper on the fun. Make sure to stay safe and have fun.
The top five cities in PG&E’s coverage area that reported balloon-related outages are Bakersfield, San Jose, Oakland, Stockton and San Francisco. Sometimes these outages interrupt electric service to important facilities such as hospitals, schools and traffic lights. You can see for yourself by checking out this video that shows how balloons can create safety issues: PG&E Mylar Balloon Safety
In order to significantly reduce the number of balloon-caused outages and to help ensure that everyone can safely enjoy 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, drone 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. Other tips can be found at pge.com/beprepared