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Don’t Cause a Blackout! Hang on to Valentine’s Day Balloons.



Metallic balloons drifting into power lines can spark fires and cause outages. Don't release them into the sky. (PG&E Screenshot)
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Dim lights and romantic dinners are Valentine’s Day traditions.

Metallic balloons drifting into power lines caused 33 outages in Fresno affecting 12,790 customers in 2020 and 2021.

But PG&E wants residents to guard against the lights going out completely because of a metallic balloon causing a power outage on Monday.

In fact, the electricity provider says that metallic balloons drifting into power lines caused 33 outages in Fresno affecting 12,790 customers in 2020 and 2021. Other Valley cities suffered Valentine’s Day outages, as well.

Sometimes service to hospitals, schools, and traffic lights is interrupted. And, in some cases, the consequences include property damage and serious injuries.

Balloon-Caused Outages up 27%: PG&E

Last year, in PG&E’s service area, metallic balloons caused more than 600 outages, a 27% increase from 2020 and the highest number of balloon-related outages in a decade.

“Balloons are a fun way to liven up holiday celebrations, but if they aren’t tied down with a weight, it’s easy for them to float into overhead power lines and disrupt service to entire communities. Keep your holidays safe by ensuring metallic balloons are secured by a weight,” says Jeff Deal, a PG&E vice president.

Watch: Metallic Balloons Spark 2021 San Jose Fire

PG&E Safety Tips

  • “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 that is heavy enough to prevent them from floating away. Never remove the weight.
  • When possible, keep metallic balloons indoors. Never permit metallic balloons to be released outside, for everyone’s safety.
  • Do not bundle metallic balloons together.
  • Never attempt to retrieve any type of balloon, kite, drone, or toy that becomes caught in a power line. Trying to retrieve it yourself is extremely dangerous. Leave it alone, and immediately call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000 to report the problem.

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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