LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — California state lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban metallic balloons, squeezing all the air out future Mother’s Day celebrations.
California Assembly Bill 2709, authored by Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, aims to prohibit the sale or distribution of balloons made of “electrically conductive material and filled with a gas lighter than air.”
The reason? Those balloons are known to cause power outages and pose safety risks when people release them into the air.
“Power outages caused by floating balloons are on a record pace,” Southern California Edison spokesman Paul Netter said.
There was a record of 924 outages caused by balloon last year, according to the utility. By this March, there have been 212 outages, a 17 percent jump compared to 182 at the same time last year.
SCE said May and June are the months with most outages when people celebrate Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, graduations and proms.
The owner of Balloon Emporium in Pasadena said he will lose a third of his business if the legislation passes.
“SCE urges its customers to make sure their balloons are always tied to a weight, as required by California law, and to never release them outdoors,” Netter said.
SCE offered other safety tips for handling foil balloons:
- Do not try to retrieve a balloon or any foreign object tangled in power lines. Call SCE at (800) 611-1911 to report the problem.
- Never tie a metallic balloon to a child’s wrist. If the balloon contacts electricity, it can travel through the balloon and into the child, causing serious injury or death.
- Never attach streamers to any balloon, whether latex or metallic.
- When done with balloons, puncture them several times or cut the knot and toss them in the trash.
If the bill becomes law, selling or releasing the foil balloons would become a crime punishable by fines of up to $250 or even jail time starting in 2018.