May 6, 2004

Releasing balloons outdoors can cause power outages

ROSEMEAD, Calif., May 6, 2004—Southern California Edison (SCE) is encouraging everyone this weekend to properly dispose of party balloons as they honor their mom on Mother’s Day.

“Drifting helium-filled balloons, both latex and metallic, often can float into power lines, which can cause power outages and on rare occasions injure people on the ground,” said Larry Grant, SCE’s vice president for power delivery.   “By all means celebrate Mother’s Day, but don’t ruin the occasion by releasing balloons outside and having them knock out power.”

Balloons drifting into SCE equipment and power lines have caused hundreds of power interruptions in recent years.  Just this past Tuesday, for example, in two separate incidents, metallic balloons knocked out power for approximately 2,500 customers in Bell and Juniper Hills (Antelope Valley).

In 2003, SCE recorded more than 270 balloon-caused power outages within its 50,000-square-mile service area.  Many of these avoidable outages occur in May and June, when Mother’s Day and graduation ceremonies occur.  These outages require costly utility repair work, knock out street signals, disrupt lives and businesses, and interrupt service for thousands of customers every year.

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.

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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 12 million via 4.6 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within central, coastal and Southern California.