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

Power Outages from Wayward Balloons Can Put the Damper on Commencement Fun

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SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.— It is graduation season in California and an important reminder for the public about the safety risks associated with helium-filled metallic balloons. If your graduation celebration involves balloons, make sure they are secured with a weight. Otherwise, they can float away and come into contact with overhead power lines, causing a public safety risk.

In the first four months of 2021, metallic balloons striking electric lines have caused nearly 175 power outages in Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) service area alone, disrupting service to more than 107,000 customers. This is a 75 percent increase from the same time period last year. These power outages can interrupt electric service to critical facilities such as hospitals, schools and traffic lights.

At this time last year we were all sheltering at home and balloon-caused outages had declined significantly. As California safely returns to normal, PG&E is especially concerned about metallic balloon safety. If your celebration activities include metallic balloons, please ensure they are secured with a weight. If balloons fly away and make contact with overhead lines, they can cause widespread power outages.

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Here’s a sobering example of what can happen when metallic balloons become loose and hit utility power lines: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jzefJfBbNA

In order to significantly reduce the number of balloon-caused outages and to help ensure that everyone can safely enjoy graduations and Father’s Day celebrations, 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
  • Visit our Safety Action Center for balloon safety graphics and more safety tips: https://www.safetyactioncenter.pge.com/articles/44-celebrate-safely

About PG&E

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit pge.com and pge.com/news.

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Sierra News Online

Sierra News Online