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PG&E, FirstEnergy detail dangers of metallic balloons



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Energy companies across the nation are warning their customers about the dangers of metallic balloons on Valentine’s Day.

According to a news release from Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), heart-shaped metallic balloons popular on this romantic holiday can float away and hit power lines, shorting transformers and melting electric wires to cause power outages.

The reason why metallic balloons are able to do this is because they have a silvery coating that’s a conductor for electricity, the company explained.

“What’s the single worst thing that can happen on Valentine’s Day? Getting dumped,” said Walt Posey, director of electric operations safety at PG&E. “But a close second is a widespread power outage.”

In 2019, metallic balloons striking electric lines caused 376 power outages in PG&E’s service area, causing outages in more than 179,000 businesses and homes.

In 2018 and 2019, FirstEnergy reported nearly 220 power outages across their six-state service area cause by metallic balloons.

“These balloons are attractive and relatively inexpensive decorations,” Lisa Rouse, director of outage management at FirstEnergy, said in a statement. “We realize many people are simply unaware of the dangers associated with releasing these foil balloons outdoors.”

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Energy companies recommend customers follow these important safety tips for metallic balloons:

  • Avoid putting metallic balloons near overhead electric lines.
  • Make sure helium-filled metallic balloons are securely tied to prevent them from floating away.
  • When possible, keep metallic balloons indoors.
  • Do not bundle metallic balloons together.
  • Puncture and deflate metallic balloons once they’re no longer in use. Never release them into the sky.
  • Never attempt to retrieve a balloon that becomes caught in a power line. Leave it alone and call your local energy company.
  • Never go near power lines that have fallen to the ground or are dangling in the air. Always assume downed lines are energized and dangerous.

Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT. 





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