June 13, 2003

Releasing balloons outdoors can cause power outages

ROSEMEAD, Calif., June 13, 2003--It’s that time of year again when long hours of study come to an end and dreams come true for students and parents on graduation day.   Southern California Edison (SCE) is encouraging everyone to not tarnish an otherwise festive occasion by releasing balloons outdoors at graduation day ceremonies or parties. 

“Drifting helium-filled balloons, both latex and metallic, often can float into power lines and cause power outages and potential injuries,” said Ron Ferree, manager of SCE’s distribution operations.   “Have fun on graduation day, but please keep the balloons indoors.”

Last Tuesday morning, for example, metallic balloons caused 3,103 customers in La Mirada and Buena Park to lose power for about an hour.

In 2002, SCE recorded 209 balloon-caused power outages within its service area.  Nearly 30% of these avoidable outages occurred in the months of May and June, when graduation day ceremonies and parties, as well as Mother’s Day celebrations, take place.  The outages caused thousands of dollars in damage, knocked out street signals, disrupted lives and businesses, and interrupted service for more than 290,000 customers last year.

In addition, after metallic balloons contact power lines, they often fall to the ground, causing serious injury or death.  There are two rules that apply when balloons or some other foreign object gets tangled in a power line:
• Never attempt to retrieve a balloon or foreign object tangled in a power line.
• 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.


An Edison International company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, serving a population of more than 12 million via 4.5 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within central, coastal and Southern California.