Valentine’s Balloons Cause Power Outage

A metallic balloon caused a power outage for thousands of PG&E customers in San Jose on Wednesday 14 February, despite the electricity company putting out an explicit warning the day before.

PG&E had anticipated that foil balloons – which are increasingly in popularity as Valentine’s Day gifts – may cause some problems this week and so sent a public statement asking people to be careful and responsible with their Valentine’s Day gift.

Despite this, a power outage caused by a red foil balloon affected more than 2,000 people in the San Jose area of California, although power was quickly restored.

According to PG&E’s statement, metallic balloons caused 456 power outages across Northern and Central California last year, disrupting electric service to more than 371,000 homes and businesses. It also claimed that these types of power outages have more than tripled over the past decade.

“Metallic balloons are conductors of electricity and pose a significant threat to power lines if released into the air,” said Pat Hogan, senior vice president of Electric Operations at PG&E. “It takes only one metallic balloon to inconvenience thousands of customers, cause significant property damage and potentially result in serious injuries.”

The statement from PG&E also gave customers a number of safety tips to remember when handling metallic balloons.

“Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) reminds its customers as they celebrate their sweethearts to make sure balloons are always tied to a weight – as required by California law – and to never release them outdoors.”

Read the statement in full here.

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