Kites, Balloons, and Power Lines Don't Mix
In the past, balloons have caused thousands of dollars of damage when they have contacted power lines. When balloons contact power lines, they short out conductors, causing power outages, voltage fluctuations, and electrical fires. Burning lines can fall and cause death or injury. If an outage does occur, the user, purchaser, seller, and manufacturer of a balloon may have to pay for any damage that results.
Kites and power lines have long been a dangerous combination. Kites should be flown away from television and radio antennae, as well as power lines. Make them only with dry string, paper, and wood. Don't use any metal! Also, they should be flown in dry weather only. Metal and wet string are excellent paths for electricity, and their contact with power lines can be fatal!
The best advice on balloons and kites is the same: keep them away from power lines. If a balloon or kite becomes entangled in a power line, immediately call Alameda Municipal Power on 748-3902; never try to free it yourself.
Deliberate or not, interfering with an electric system is dangerous and expensive. AMP policy is to prosecute those responsible for recklessness or vandalism and to recover damages. Because of the chances for death, injury, and great loss, the Public Utilities Board has authorized a $250 reward for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of anyone causing a power outage. Under State law, those who lose a metallic balloon can expect a fine of $100 for the first offense.
The State of California's Public Utilities Commission reports that metallic balloons cause 1% of all outages in California. The sale or distribution of balloons attached to metallic ribbons has been prohibited. Metallic balloons must have a weight attached and carry a label warning about the dangers they pose to power lines.
The price of a power outage is secondary to the far greater potential for severe injury or death resulting from electric shock. Please help us safeguard children of all ages by cautioning that balloons, kites, and power lines never mix.