Balloon-caused outages increased 27 percent in 2021
SIERRA DIVISION, Calif.— With Valentine's Day festivities taking place next week, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) reminds customers that nothing puts a damper on a romantic evening faster than a widespread power outage. If your holiday celebration includes metallic balloons, make sure they are securely tied with a weight to keep them from floating away. Metallic balloons that contact overhead power lines can disrupt electric service to an entire neighborhood, cause significant property damage and potentially result in serious injuries.
In 2021, metallic balloons that drifted into PG&E power lines caused more than 600 outages, a 27 percent increase from the previous year and the highest number of balloon-related outages that PG&E has seen in a decade. In 2021, in PG&E’s Sierra Division, balloons hitting overhead power lines caused 14 outages, disrupting power to more than 9,000 customers. In 2021, in PG&E’s Sierra Division, balloons hitting overhead power lines caused 9 outages, disrupting power to more than 500 customers.
“Balloons are a fun way to liven up holiday celebrations, but if they aren’t tied down with a weight, it’s easy for them to float into overhead power lines and disrupt service to entire communities. Keep your holidays safe by ensuring metallic balloons are secured by a weight,” said Jeff Deal, Vice President, Electric Distribution, PG&E.
The top six cities in PG&E's coverage area that reported balloon-related outages in 2021 are San Jose, Fresno, Bakersfield, Oakland, Richmond and Stockton. Sometimes these outages interrupt electric service to important facilities such as hospitals, schools and traffic lights. You can see for yourself by checking out this video that shows how balloons can create safety issues: PG&E Mylar Balloon Safety.
In order to significantly reduce the number of balloon-caused outages and to help ensure that everyone can safely enjoy Valentine’s Day, PG&E reminds customers to follow these important 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. Trying to retrieve it yourself is extremely dangerous. Leave it alone, and immediately call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000 to report the problem.
- Celebrate special occasions safely by ensuring that metallic balloons are secured with a heavyweight and never releasing them outdoors. You can learn more of these safety tips at safetyactioncenter.pge.com
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit pge.com and pge.com/news.