Customers Reminded That Helium-Filled Metallic Balloons Can Cause Power Outages
This Valentine's Day, think of your loved ones with chocolates, flowers and maybe some jewelry. And if your gift of choice is a Mylar, or metallic balloon, make sure to tie it down.
That's because helium-filled metallic balloons, often given as gifts during this special day, can float into power lines and cause outages that could last from a few minutes to hours at a time. Southern California Edison (SCE) asks that customers keep the balloons inside or keep them tightly secured to a weight heavy enough to prevent them from drifting away.
"Southern California Edison wants customers to enjoy their Valentine's Day, but would like them to keep in mind that metallic balloons can easily float away into power lines causing short-circuits and outages," said Bill Messner, SCE's manager, Corporate Health and Safety. "We don't want avoidable outages to ruin this special day."
In the last several years, SCE has experienced close to 2,000 power outages caused by balloons. In 2012, there were 583 balloon-related outages, with a 110 percent increase in outages in February compared to January. The number of outages in 2012 was the highest since 2007.
SCE recommends some simple safety tips for handling metallic balloons:
- Keep metallic balloons indoors, and never release them outside.
- Helium-filled metallic balloons can drift and come in contact with high-voltage lines and cause power outages, so be sure to attach a weight heavy enough to prevent them from floating away.
- Never attach streamers to any balloon — latex or metallic.
- If you buy and fill your own balloons with helium, be sure to tie them securely to a weight heavy enough to prevent them from drifting away.
- Do not attempt to retrieve a balloon or any foreign object tangled in power lines. Instead, call SCE at 800-611-1911 and report the problem.
More information on metallic balloon safety can be found at www.sce.com/metallicballoons.
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[An Edison International (NYSE:EIX) company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation's largest electric utilities, serving a population of nearly 14 million via 4.9 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within Central, Coastal and Southern California.]