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Valentine’s Gift Sparks Power Outages

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Sonora, CA — Helium-filled metallic balloons are great gifts for Valentine’s Day, but not so good for PG & E.

The electric company says releasing the balloons into the air can cause power outages and other dangers.

PG & E Spokesperson Brandi Ehlers says, “They (metallic balloons) can come in contact with the lines and cause outages or bring our lines down to the ground.”

PG & E asks the public to make sure the balloons have a weight tied to them and keep them indoors. Ehlers says that sometimes these outages interrupt electric service to important facilities such as hospitals, schools and traffic lights.

“Last year in the Stockton division, which includes Calaveras County, we had 19 outages that affected more than 7,700 customers, so it’s a huge problem we want the public to be aware of on this holiday,” said Ehlers.

Here is PG&E’s list of 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 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.