As Metallic Balloon Outages Soar, SCE Urges Customers to Secure Them This Valentine’s Day

February 04, 2016

Infographic: Celebrate Valentine's Day Safely

Media Contact: Paul Netter, (626) 302-2255

ROSEMEAD, Calif., Feb. 4, 2016 — Records might be made to be broken, but Southern California Edison just experienced one that it never wants to come close to again.

SCE saw an all-time high 924 power outages caused by free-floating metallic balloons last year, far surpassing its previous high of 714 in 2012.

With Valentine’s Day near, SCE strongly urges its customers to make sure their balloons are always tied to a weight — as required by California law — and to never release them outdoors because of the thousands of customers left without power when the metallic balloons float into power lines and other electrical equipment.

Serious injuries and property damage can occur when the balloon contact is severe enough to bring down power lines — which happened 96 times last year for SCE. Anyone who sees a downed line or dangling wire — even if it appears not to be live — should not touch or approach it or anything in contact with it and call 911 immediately. 

“Metallic balloons look harmless, but there’s no way to overstate how dangerous they can be when released outside,” said Paul Jeske, SCE’s director of Corporate Health and Safety. “Merchants should always ensure that balloons are property weighted and remind their customers to never release them outdoors.”

To illustrate the spike in balloon outages that typically begins in February and peaks in June, they rose 82 percent last year from January (33) to February (60), peaking with an all-time monthly high of 152 in June.

To prevent outages and injuries, SCE recommends some other safety tips for handling metallic balloons:

  • Do not attempt to retrieve a balloon — or any foreign object — tangled in power lines or inside a substation. Instead, call SCE at 800-611-1911 and report the problem.
  • Never tie a metallic balloon to a child’s wrist. If the balloon contacts electricity, such as the service drop to a home, it can travel through the balloon and into the child, causing serious injury or death.
  • Never attach streamers to any balloon — latex or metallic.
  • When done with balloons, do not release them. Puncture them several times or cut the knot and throw them in the garbage to prevent them from floating away.

More on metallic balloon safety can be found at on.sce.com/staysafe. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

About Southern California Edison

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 5 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within Central, Coastal and Southern California.

Topics: Safety