PG&E Safety Tip for Graduates: Celebrate Safely by Securing Balloons with a Weight

Power Outages from Wayward Balloons Can Put the Damper on Commencement Fun

OAKLAND, Calif., May 22, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — It is graduation season in California and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has an important reminder for the public about the safety risks associated with helium-filled metallic balloons. If your graduation celebration involves balloons, make sure they are secured with a weight. Otherwise, they can float away and come into contact with overhead power lines, causing a public safety risk.


Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PRNewsfoto/Pacific Gas and Electric Company)

In the first four months of 2024, metallic balloons striking electric lines have caused nearly 112 power outages in the PG&E service area alone, disrupting service to more than 47,000 customers. This is a 30 percent increase from the same time period last year.

“Metallic balloons have a silvery coating, which is a conductor for electricity. If the balloons float away and make contact with power lines, they can short transformers, cause power outages and melt electrical wires, causing public safety risks. We urge everyone to celebrate responsibly and secure metallic balloons with a weight,” said Peter Kenny, Senior Vice President of Electric Operations for PG&E.

A few years ago, more than 6,000 San Francisco customers were without power after metallic balloons released during a graduation ceremony came into contact with overhead power lines. PG&E tends to see an increase in balloon-caused outages during graduation season.

Here’s a sobering example of what can happen when metallic balloons become lose and hit utility power lines: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jzefJfBbNA

In order to significantly reduce the number of balloon-caused outages and to help ensure that everyone can safely enjoy graduations and Father’s Day celebrations, 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. 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. Other tips can be found at pge.com/beprepared
  • Visit our Safety Action Center for balloon safety graphics and more safety tips: https://www.safetyactioncenter.pge.com/articles/44-celebrate-safely

About PG&E

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 

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SOURCE Pacific Gas and Electric Company