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Metallic Heart Balloons A Favorite Valentine’s Day Gift, But Not For PG&E

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Sonora, CA – Metallic heart balloons are in great demand for Valentine’s Day, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic keeping people indoors and forcing many to celebrate more creatively, but PG&E wants to bust that trend.

“Metallic Balloons have a coating that conducts electricity,” explains PG&E spokesperson Megan McFarland. “So, when the balloons hit the line it starts to melt, and it can cause a reaction like a short circuit or a power surge leading to power outages.”

This year, due to the pandemic, only 21 percent of people celebrating the holiday are planning an evening out, the lowest in 17 years, according to a National Retail Federation survey. Last year that trend sparked a 30 percent statewide jump in the overall number of outages due to metallic balloons drifting into power lines during Valentine’s Day and the Graduation season in California, according to McFarland. She adds that the company suspects that there could be a correlation with the at-home celebrations due to the pandemic and they want to bring the numbers down this year.

The Mother Lode was not spared. In Tuolumne County last year, there were six outages caused by metallic balloons, knocking out power to 9,784 customers for an average of 80 minutes. Calaveras County also tallied six outages affecting 706 customers for an average of more than four hours. The PG&E chart below gives a break down of the impacts of those outages:

Metallic Balloons power outages in Mother Lode
Metallic Balloons power outages in Mother Lode

To significantly reduce the number of balloon-caused outages, PG&E provided these safety tips for 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 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, drone, 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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