LOS ANGELES (JUNE 16, 2023) – With graduation season happening now and Father’s Day around the corner, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) would like to remind its customers that metallic balloons, also known as Mylar balloons, can cause power outages that can impact entire communities, and pose a public safety risk.
“We understand that metallic balloons are often a part of celebrations, but we want to remind the public that these balloons can result in widespread power outages if not tied down properly to prevent them from making contact with power lines,” says Simon Zewdu, Interim Senior Assistant General Manager, Power System. “LADWP’s top priority is the safety of our customers and utility workers, and you can help us keep our communities safe by handling metallic balloons with caution.”
Metallic balloons are hazardous because of their conductive metallic coating. If they come into contact with power lines, they can cause short circuits or power surges and result in large-scale power outages, the melting of electrical wires, or even fires that can lead to potential injuries and property damage. Additionally, outages caused by metallic balloons can often disrupt traffic signals, causing greater traffic congestion.
A few years ago, a video was posted on social media showing a cluster of metallic balloons floating into an LADWP power line in Marina del Rey. The footage below shows the kind of damage metallic balloons can cause to electric infrastructure.
To reduce the risk of outages and potential injuries, here are some important tips on how to safely and properly handle metallic balloons:
- Never release a metallic balloon outdoors
- Keep metallic balloons away from power lines
- Use balloon weights
- Never use metallic ribbons with metallic balloons
- Always deflate metallic balloons and dispose of them properly when no longer in use
The above safety tips are taken from California Penal Code Chapter 1559 Section 653.1. Florists and other merchants should always ensure that metallic balloons are properly weighted, and should remind their customers not to release them outdoors.
If you see a metallic balloon that has contacted a power line, keep a safe distance away of at least 20 feet. Always assume downed wires are energized. Do not attempt to climb the pole or try to retrieve the object. Call 911 to report any downed wires. Call 1-800-DIAL-DWP to report metallic balloons that are stuck in power lines.
To report an outage, or subscribe to email and/or text outage alerts, visit LADWP.com/OutageAlert.