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Let Hearts, Not Metallic Balloons Soar This Valentine's Day: PG&E

Patch logo Patch 2/13/2020 Maggie Fusek
a close up of a toy: On Valentine's Day and throughout the year, PG&E asks customers to make sure helium-filled metallic balloons are securely tied to a weight that is heavy enough to prevent them from floating away. © Shutterstock On Valentine's Day and throughout the year, PG&E asks customers to make sure helium-filled metallic balloons are securely tied to a weight that is heavy enough to prevent them from floating away.

SONOMA COUNTY, CA — Metallic balloons striking electric lines caused 376 power outages last year in PG&E's service area, disrupting electric service to more than 179,000 homes and businesses. Four of those were in Sonoma County, that’s down from 10 in 2018, PG&E said in a reminder Thursday that sparks – and not just the romantic kind – can fly on Feb. 14.

Helium-filled balloons, if improperly secured can come in contact with power lines, and because metallic balloons have a silvery coating, which is a conductor for electricity, the balloons can short transformers, melt electric wires and cause power outages, PG&E said.

"What’s the single worst thing that can happen on Valentine’s Day? Getting dumped," said Walt Posey, Director of Electric Operations Safety. "But a close second is a widespread power outage."

For that reason, Posey said PG&E encourages it customers to celebrate Valentine’s Day responsibly by securing metallic balloons with a weight that’s heavy enough to prevent them from floating away.

Here are some metallic-balloon safety tips from PG&E:

  • “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 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
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