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Love can be in the air on Valentine’s Day -- but not metallic balloons

PG&E warns helium-filled balloons can cause power outages, injuries
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If you want to show your valentine the love with a balloon this year, make sure it’s properly secured.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company is urging consumers to think safety first and securely tie a weight to all metallic balloons containing helium to prevent 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 personal injuries.

Last year, metallic balloons that drifted into PG&E power lines caused nearly 290 outages, affecting electric service to more than 134,000 homes and businesses throughout Northern and Central California.

Sometimes these outages interrupt electric service to important facilities such as hospitals, schools and traffic lights.

The number of power outages caused by metallic balloons in PG&E’s service area has more than doubled over the past decade. In order to significantly reduce this number and to help ensure that everyone can safely enjoy their Valentine’s Day, PG&E reminds customers to follow these important safety tips for metallic balloons:

-- 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, especially if accessible to small children. 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 (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 away, keep others away and immediately call 911 to alert the police and fire departments.