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In 2019, metallic balloons striking electric lines caused 376 power outages in PG&E’s service area

Power Outage Caused By Mylar Balloons, Says PG&E

FRESNO – A major power outage caused by Mylar balloons coming in contact with power lines has PG&E reminding everyone to keep metallic balloons securely anchored.

“We’ve had our first confirmed Mylar balloon outage of the ‘Grads and Dads’ season,” says PG&E spokesperson Denny Boyles.

“At 10:39 a.m. today our system indicated multiple faults in the area of 8th Street and W. North Avenue near Reedley, and we received multiple ‘wire down’ calls. Our crews confirmed multiple locations of wire down near the area, with Mylar balloons wrapped around two circuits of wire, causing a short.”

The outage initially affected nearly 3,000 customers. Currently 215 remain without power as crews complete repairs.

It may look fun and festive to release balloons into the air during graduation ceremonies, but when helium-filled metallic balloons come into contact with overhead lines they can cause a widespread power outage. PG&E encourages grads to celebrate safely by keeping metallic balloons secured with weights.

Metallic balloons have a silvery coating, which is a conductor for electricity. If the balloons float away and make contact with power lines, they can short transformers, cause power outages and melt electrical wires, causing public safety risks.

PG&E offers these guidelines when using 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.
  • Keep metallic balloons indoors, when possible. For everyone’s safety, never permit metallic balloons to be released outside.
  • 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.

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Sierra News Online

Sierra News Online