Metallic Balloons Striking Power Lines Could Deflate Valentine’s Day Celebrations

February 11, 2011

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

ROSEMEAD, Calif., Feb. 11, 2011 — With Valentine’s Day upon us, love is in the air. But Southern California Edison’s heartfelt message to Californians is that metallic balloons can cause power outages if not handled properly.

Helium-filled metallic balloons can drift and come in contact with high-voltage lines where electricity can arc across the balloons, cause short circuits, burn wires and interrupt service. Resulting power outages may last from a few minutes to several hours, lead to inoperable stoplights and possible traffic problems, and could even put a damper on Valentine’s Day festivities.

“SCE wants everyone to enjoy celebrating Valentine’s Day, but we also want to urge people to keep metallic balloons indoors. If they do take them outdoors, customers should keep them tightly secured to prevent them from drifting into power lines and causing outages,” said William Messner, SCE acting director of Corporate Environment Health and Safety.

Between 2000 and 2010, SCE’s local electrical grid has experienced more than 3,915 balloon-caused power outages. Last year, there were 415 balloon-related outages, making it the second worst year since 2007 when there were 478 outages. In 2010, nearly 620,000 SCE customers had their power interrupted due to metallic balloon-related outages.

SCE recommends these simple safety rules for handling metallic balloons:
• 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.
• Keep metallic balloons indoors, and never release them outside.
• Never attach metallic streamers to any balloon – latex or metallic.
• Be sure to secure a helium-filled balloon with a weight heavy enough to prevent it from drifting away. (It is unlawful to sell metallic balloons without a string weight.)
• Never go near a downed or dangling wire, and keep others away. Immediately call SCE at (800) 611-1911 to report the problem, or contact the police or fire department.

Information on metallic balloon safety can be found at www.sce.com/metallicballoons

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

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Metallic Balloons Striking Power Lines Could Deflate Valentine’s Day Celebrations