Foil Balloon Safety for Father’s Day

By Arleen Reetz – Click here for the Full Article

Choosing the right Father’s Day gift can be tricky. If you opt to buy Dad helium-filled metallic balloons instead of a tie this year, PG&E urges you to please make sure you tie a weight securely to them to prevent them from floating away.

Metallic balloons that contact overhead power lines can potentially result in serious injuries and can also disrupt electric service to an entire neighborhood or cause significant property damage.

In 2013, more than 300 power outages were caused by metallic balloons that drifted into PG&E power lines, affecting electric service to nearly 165,000 homes and businesses throughout Northern and Central California. These outages can interrupt electric service to important facilities such as hospitals, schools and traffic lights.

“When metallic balloons get tangled in power lines, it has the same effect as if you stuck a fork into a power outlet,” said Jason Regan, PG&E’s director of Emergency Management and Response. “It’s a major safety issue that can cause power to short out, which can trigger the power line to break, resulting in energized lines falling to the ground. It is important to take precautions if you are including them as part of your festivities.”

The number of power outages caused by metallic balloons in PG&E’s service area has more than doubled over the past decade. To reduce this number and to help ensure that everyone can enjoy Father’s Day safely, 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 balloon weight that is heavy enough to prevent them from floating away. Never remove the balloon 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.