LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Officials with Southern California Edison (SCE) and the County of Los Angeles Fire Department urged the public Friday to use caution with metallic balloons this Mother’s Day by keeping them attached to a weight as required by California law and to never release them outdoors.
KNX 1070’s Jon Baird reports officials blame an annual increase in power outages during the months of May and June to the giving of metallic – or Mylar – balloons during Mother’s Day, graduations and proms.
According to SCE, the metallic coating on Mylar balloons is an excellent conductor of electricity. If a Mylar balloon touches a power line, it could cause a power outage or even an electrical fire.
Last year, SCE’s balloon-related outages increased from 70 in April to 116 in May and eventually caused 2,454 hours of interruptions for homes and businesses over the 12 months, according to SCE Consumer Affairs manager Marlyn Denter.
“Believe it or not, last year we had 689 power outages due to metallic balloons,” Denter said. “33 percent of those happened in May or June.”
By comparison, February and March — also high months for similar incidents related to Valentine’s Day — produced 19.4 percent of last year’s balloon outages, according to SCE officials.
During a public demonstration held inside the Southern California Flower Market in downtown Los Angeles, Edison officials showed first-hand the potential risks of a Mylar balloon coming in contact with power lines, with one balloon actually bursting into flames.
Authorities offered the following tips to avoid Mylar balloon-related incidents:
- Keep Mylar balloons indoors;
- If you see a Mylar balloon at an outdoor gathering, make sure that it is securely tied down or attached to a weight;
- When disposing of a Mylar balloon, make sure to puncture it in several places. Partially-inflated Mylar balloons can easily become airborne;
- If a Mylar balloon, kite or any object becomes entangled in an overhead power line, call 911. Do not try to remove it yourself.
Click here for more safety tips from SCE on handling metallic balloons.