Don’t Let Mylar Balloons Leave You in the Dark This Mother’s Day

Screen capture images from a video show a bundle of metallic balloons come in contact with LADWP's electric equipment.

LADWP Reminds Customers How to Safely Handle Metallic Balloons to Prevent Outages

LOS ANGELES (May 10, 2019)—Breakfast-in bed, a day of pampering or even flowers and balloons are popular ideas when it comes to Mother’s Day gifts. But if those balloons are metallic, or Mylars, and stray into energized power equipment, they could result in a power outage. So far this year through May 1, there have already been 292 power outages in the City of Los Angeles and adjoining areas served by Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) caused by Mylar balloons. In 2018, LADWP crews responded to nearly 1,000 Mylar balloon-related incidents that resulted in the loss of power to nearly 545,000 LADWP commercial and residential customers. Due to the often extensive damage caused by these balloons, restoration by our crews can take many hours and expose them to unnecessary hazards.

May and June are the months when most of the Mylar-related outages occur due to Mother’s Day, graduation season and Father’s Day celebrations.

“In those two months last year, LADWP handled more than 300 outages related to Mylars,” says Andrew Kendall, LADWP Senior Assistant General Manager, Power System Construction, Maintenance and Operations. “We encourage our customers to celebrate responsibly if they have metallic balloons by weighing them down and by never releasing them outdoors. Even a metallic balloon released in an open area can still encounter a power line, either on its way up or when it deflates and makes its way down.”

Earlier this year, a VIDEO posted on social media shows a cluster of stray heart-shaped Mylar balloons floating into LADWP’s power equipment in Marina del Rey. The dramatic footage shows the kind of damage the balloons can cause to electric infrastructure.

The metallic coating on Mylar balloons conducts electricity and can cause a short circuit or power surge when in contact with power lines and even bring down energized wires, posing a serious public safety risk. In addition, outages caused by balloons can often result in traffic congestion due to disrupted traffic signals, and cause a significant inconvenience for residents and business owners who lose power.

To reduce the risk of outages and potential injuries, here are some important tips on how to safely and properly handle Mylar balloons:

  • Never release a Mylar balloon outdoors
  • Keep Mylar balloons away from power lines
  • Use balloon weights
  • Never use metallic ribbon with metallic balloons
  • Always deflate metallic balloons and dispose of them properly when no longer in use

The above safety tips for proper handling of Mylar balloons are taken from California Penal Code Chapter 1559 Section 653.1. Florists and other merchants should always make certain that Mylar balloons are properly weighted, and should remind their customers not to release them outdoors.

If you see a Mylar balloon that has contacted a power line, keep yourself, your equipment, and all other items and people, at least 20 feet away. Always assume the power lines are energized. Do not attempt to climb the pole or try to retrieve the object. Call LADWP at 1-800-DIAL-DWP.