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ROSEMEAD, Calif., June 7, 2010 —The month of June means final exams, the start of school vacations, and graduations for many people, but while Southern California Edison (SCE) salutes all the grads it also reminds everyone that June often sees a rise in power outages that easily could have been avoided if metallic balloons outdoors were handled more responsibly.

In terms of service interruptions, June is the busiest time of the year for SCE and, consequently, the most frustrating for customers coping with no electric service, flashing traffic signals, stuck elevators, blank screens, thawed food, and all the other inconveniences and problems caused by extended power outages.
The spike in outages in June is attributed to wayward metallic balloons that get away from graduation celebrants, many of whom are unaware of the problems the balloons can cause.   Unsecured balloons can stray or float for miles before hitting high-voltage power lines, causing short circuits, damaged electrical equipment, and service interruptions.

The increase in balloon-related outages typically occurs in May around Mother’s Day, can rise again over the Memorial Day holiday, and continues through June, when many graduation ceremonies and parties are held.

Since January 2000, SCE customers have experienced nearly 3,500 balloon-caused power outages. In 2009, there were 415 balloon-related outages making it the second worst year since 2007 when there were 478 such outages. For June 2009, SCE attributes 87 service interruptions to balloons. In the past three years, during the month of June, metallic balloons have caused 248 outages.

SCE recommends these simple rules on metallic balloon safety:

  • Do not attempt to retrieve a balloon—or any object— tangled in power lines.  Instead, call SCE and report the problem.
  • Never release metallic balloons outside.  Keep them indoors. 
  • Never attach metallic streamers to any balloon—latex or metallic.
  • Do not bundle metallic balloons.
  • It is unlawful to sell metallic balloons without a string weight.
  • If you 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, contact the police or fire department and call SCE at (800) 611-1911. SCE will dispatch crews to safely correct the problem.

Information on metallic balloon safety can be found at

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.


Southern California Edison Salutes Graduates and Reminds Celebrants That Metallic Balloons Can Cause Outages