PG&E warning customers not to release metallic balloons into the air, could cause power outages

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Pacific Gas & Electric is asking those celebrating Valentine's Day with metallic balloons to be careful. 

PG & E crews said metallic balloons are conductors of electricity that pose a significant risk to power lines. 

Last year, metallic balloons were the cause of 456 power outages across PG&E's service area in Northern and Central California. According to the company, in Kern County, there were 42 power outages caused by the balloons, cutting electric service to nearly 30,000 customers. 

Officials recommend always tying balloons to a weight which is 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 Pat Hogan, Senior Vice President of Electric Operations at PG&E.

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.

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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