A PG&E official has come up with a one-liner worthy perhaps of Chris Rock ahead of Valentine’s Day on Friday.

“What’s the single worst thing that can happen on Valentine’s Day? Getting dumped,” says Walt Posey, the company’s director of electric operations safety.


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“But a close second is a widespread power outage. We encourage our customers to celebrate Valentine’s Day responsibly by securing metallic balloons with a weight that’s heavy enough to prevent them from floating away.”

Balloons Caused 376 PG&E Power Outages Last Year

In 2019, metallic balloons striking electric lines caused 376 power outages in PG&E’s service area and disrupted electric service to more than 179,000 homes and businesses.

Metallic balloons have a silvery coating that conducts electricity. If the balloons contact power lines, they can short transformers, melt electric wires, and cause power outages.

Valley residents appear to be getting the message.

The number of balloon-related outages dipped from 43 in 2018 to 27 last year in Fresno. In the Madera-Merced area, outages dropped from 34 in 2018 to 21 last year.

Safety Tips

PG&E provides the following tips to keep the lights on and people safe:

  • “Look Up and Live!” Use caution and avoid celebrating with metallic balloons near overhead electric lines.
  • Make sure helium-filled metallic balloons are securely tied to a weight heavy enough to prevent them from floating away. Never remove the weight.
  • When possible, keep metallic balloons indoors. Don’t release metallic balloons outside.
  • Do not bundle metallic balloons together.
  • Never attempt to retrieve any type of balloon, kite or toy that becomes caught in a power line. Leave it alone, and immediately call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000 to report the problem.
  • Never go near a power line that has fallen to the ground or is dangling in the air. Always assume downed electric lines are energized and dangerous. Stay far away, keep others away, and immediately call 911 to alert the police and fire departments.
  • Other tips can be found at pge.com/beprepared

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