SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--With graduation season in full swing, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is imparting some sage words of wisdom to schools, graduates and their families: If your graduation celebration involves helium-filled metallic balloons, make sure they are secured with a weight to prevent them from coming into contact with overhead power lines and causing a public safety risk. In June of 2015, PG&E experienced the highest number of balloon-caused outages in the company’s history. PG&E typically sees a spike in the number of outages caused by metallic balloons during the graduation season.
“The mass balloon releases that we often see at graduation ceremonies this time of year may look like fun, but if balloons—particularly metallic ones—come into contact with overhead lines they can cause a widespread power outage. This not only jeopardizes public safety; it can impact some of the things that make this time of year so exciting, like commencement speeches, family celebrations and grad night parties. At graduation ceremonies, the only things in the air should be caps and confetti, not metallic balloons,” said Jason Regan, director, PG&E Emergency Management.
In the first five months of 2016, metallic balloons striking electric lines have caused nearly 180 power outages in PG&E’s service area alone, a 14 percent increase over the previous year. These power outages can interrupt electric service to critical facilities such as hospitals, schools and traffic lights.
To help ensure that graduation balloon celebrations are enjoyed responsibly, PG&E reminds customers to follow these important balloon safety tips:
- “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.
- Keep metallic balloons indoors, when possible. For everyone's safety, never permit metallic balloons to be released outside.
- 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 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.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 23,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/ and www.pge.com/en/about/newsroom/index.page.