May 26, 2005

ROSEMEAD, Calif., May 26, 2005–Customers of Southern California Edison (SCE) have experienced a dramatic increase in the number of power outages caused by metallic balloons thus far in 2005.  With graduation ceremonies taking place during the coming weeks, SCE is alerting customers to the inconvenience and danger associated with the outdoor use of metallic balloons.

Since January, metallic balloons have caused 200 outages, affecting approximately 285,000 SCE customers, compared to 162 balloon-related outages the same time last year.  These outages cause thousands of dollars of damage and affect thousands of customers each year.  May and June are typically the busiest months for balloon-related outages, when graduation day ceremonies and parties, as well as Mother’s Day celebrations, take place.

“Drifting helium-filled metallic balloons can cause power outages and utility equipment failures, and, in some cases, can cause electrical overhead lines and equipment to fall to the ground resulting in property damage or serious personal injury,” said Jack Sahl, SCE environmental, health and safety director.  “We all want to have fun celebrating graduations with family members and friends, but SCE recommends that you restrict metallic balloons to indoor use.”

 SCE recommends these simple rules surrounding balloon safety:

  • If a balloon becomes tangled in power lines do not attempt to retrieve it.  Instead, call SCE and report the problem.
  • Keep metallic balloons indoors, and never release them outside.
  • It is unlawful to sell metallic balloons without a string weight.
  • Never attach metallic streamers to any balloon—latex or metallic.
  • Don’t bundle metallic balloons together.
  • 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. 
  • Never go near a downed or dangling wire.  Keep others away and contact the police or fire department and call SCE at (800) 611-1911 for assistance.

More information on safety and a host of other topics can be found at

A downloadable photo of a metallic balloon near power lines is available at

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An Edison International company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, serving a population of more than 13 million via 4.6 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within central, coastal and Southern California.