BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — This Valentine's Day, Pacific Gas and Electric company is asking customers not to get swept away, but they're not talking love.
“What’s the single worst thing that can happen on Valentine’s Day? Getting dumped. But a close second is a widespread power outage," said Walt Posey, Director, Electric Operations Safety. "We encourage our customers to celebrate Valentine’s Day responsibly by securing metallic balloons with a weight that’s heavy enough to prevent them from floating away.”
PG&E is warning customers about the dangers of improperly secured helium-filled metallic balloons when they come in contact with power lines. 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, melt electric wires and cause power outages, all of which pose public safety risks.
In 2019, metallic balloons striking electric lines caused 376 power outages in PG&E’s service area alone, disrupting electric service to more than 179,000 homes and businesses, according to the utility.
- 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.