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Mylar Balloon in powerlines

Mylar Balloons create Power Outage Hazards

Feb 13, 2018

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PG&E Warns of Valentine’s Day Hazard, Urges Sonoma County Customers to Keep the Downward Trend in Balloon-Related Outages

More metallic balloons are sold for Valentine’s Day than any other holiday and, not surprisingly, it’s also around this time of year that customers suffer from outages caused by unsecured metallic balloons drifting into power lines. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) reminds its customers as they celebrate their sweethearts to make sure balloons are always tied to a weight –as required by California law – and to never release them outdoors.  

“Metallic balloons are conductors of electricity and pose a significant threat to power lines if released into the air. It takes only one metallic balloon to inconvenience thousands of customers, cause significant property damage and potentially result in serious injuries,” said Dave Canny, senior manager of PG&E’s North Bay and Sonoma Divisions.

Last year, metallic balloons were the cause of 456 power outages across PG&E’s service area, located in Northern and Central California, disrupting electric service to more than 371,000 homes and businesses. In Sonoma County, there was a decrease in metallic balloon-related outages from nine in 2016 to just six in 2017. However, those six outages impacted at least 1,000 customers at different times.

Unlike latex helium balloons, metallic balloons can stay inflated and floating for two to three weeks – posing a hazard to power lines and equipment even days after being released outside.

SEE how Mylar Ballons can get caught in power lines interrupting electricity.

PG&E urges customers to follow these important safety tips for handling 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 done with balloons, do not release them. Puncture them several times or cut the knot and throw them in the garbage to prevent them from floating away, or insert a straw into the stem to deflate the balloon so it can be re-inflated and used again
  • Do not attempt to retrieve a balloon — or any foreign object — tangled in power lines or inside a substation. Instead, 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 away, keep others away and immediately call 911 to alert the police and fire departments.

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