GLENDALE, CA – In the month of May, roughly 2,000 Glendale residents experienced power outages lasting longer than 30 minutes. These outages were caused by Mylar balloons that drifted into power lines. Glendale Water & Power (GWP) officials are asking for the media’s help in raising awareness of the dangers and significant inconvenience posed by Mylar balloons and oversized latex balloons when they are released.
Mylar balloons are made of a metallic material that can cause short circuits and eventually lead to equipment failure when they come into contact with power lines. The most recent outage occurred on June 1, when a Mylar balloon became tangled in power lines near Scholl Canyon Park, leaving over 14-hundred residents without power for more than 25 minutes.
GWP General Manager Glenn O. Steiger says he is very concerned about the number of outages caused by Mylar balloons. “With graduations, Fourth of July, and other ongoing celebrations, it’s important to remind people of problems associated with Mylar balloons,” says Steiger. “Releasing them into the air causes a serious risk of power outages when they drift away and become entangled in power lines.” Steiger added that Mylar balloons have become a major public safety concern for GWP.
To reduce the risk of these incidents, GWP offers the following safety tips:
- Always attach a weight to metallic balloons
- Never release a metallic balloon outdoors
- Keep metallic balloons away from power lines
- Never use metallic ribbon with metallic balloons
- Always deflate metallic balloons and dispose of them properly when no longer in use
- Never release large/oversized latex balloons or large bunches of latex balloons. They can strike power lines when released or when they fall back to the ground
Florists and other merchants should always make certain that metallic balloons are properly weighted, and should remind their customers not to release them outdoors.
California law (California Penal Code Chapter 1559 Section 653.1) restricts the use of metallic balloons and metallic ribbon. The law states the metallic balloon must be weighted down separately so it does not come into contact with power lines. The law also prohibits metallic ribbons from being attached to helium-filled balloons.
Another word of caution: Always assume power lines are energized. Keep yourself, your equipment and all other items, at least 10 feet away from power lines. If a balloon or any object becomes entangled in an overhead power line, don’t climb the pole or make any other attempt to retrieve the object, contact GWP at (818) 548-2011. Mylar balloon related outages can cause power lines to fall and pose a significant threat to public safety. If a power line falls on a vehicle while you are driving or riding as a passenger, stay inside of your vehicle and call 911. Do not open the door and do not exit the vehicle. Wait for help to arrive.
Careless handling of these balloons can cause serious injury, including to utility employees working on equipment. Just one balloon can cause a short circuit, which may melt an electrical wire and cause it to fall. We should all do our part to help prevent these types of incidences.
Glendale Water & Power is the City of Glendale’s utility. Glendale Water & Power provides water to 32,500 customers in Glendale, California. The city-owned utility also generates, transmits, and distributes electricity to 83,300 residential, commercial, and industrial customers.