PG&E issues warning about metallic balloons ahead of Valentine's Day holiday

PG&E is warning people celebrating Valentine's Day this weekend to secure metallic balloons that have caused an increase in power outages recently when the balloons get loose and touch power lines.

The utility said the metallic balloons were found to have caused 453 outages across its service area in 2020, a nearly 30 percent increase compared to the previous year and the possible byproduct of many people using the balloons while doing drive-by celebrations or outdoor celebrations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

San Jose had the most outages caused by the balloons out of any city in the Bay Area at 57 in 2020, with Oakland, San Francisco, Hayward and Richmond rounding out the top five.

PG&E recommends that the metallic balloons be tied to a weight heavy enough to keep them from floating away, and to not bundle them together or hold celebrations near overhead electric lines.

Anyone who sees a balloon or something else caught in a power line should leave it alone and call PG&E at (800) 743-5000.