Metallic Balloons Could Cause Power Outages During Valentine’s Day
(by Supriya Yelimeli) – PG&E officials warn that unsecured metallic balloons can fly into power lines and cause dangerous outages, putting a damper on upcoming Valentine’s Day celebrations.
More metallic balloons are sold for Valentine’s Day than any other holiday, PG&E officials said.
Balloon-related outages have tripled in the last decade. Metallic balloons caused 456 power outages in Northern and Central California in 2017, according to the utility.
It is illegal to release unsecured balloons outdoors in California, according to a state law passed in 1990 to combat power outages.
The top five cities in PG&E’s coverage area that reported balloon-related outages are San Jose, Fresno, Oakland, Bakersfield and San Francisco.
Metallic helium balloons can stay inflated for up to three weeks, and are more capable of floating into power lines than less durable helium balloons. Metallic balloons also conduct electricity, according to PG&E.
To prevent power disasters, PG&E officials suggest tying weights to balloons and puncturing them before throwing them away.
If a balloon or any foreign object is entangled in power lines, PG&E asks people to call (800) 743-5000 to report the problem instead of retrieving it on their own.