If you want to get some cute, heart-shaped mylar balloons for your sweetie this Valentine’s Day, make sure they’re secured to something sturdy and kept inside. If your balloon bouquet – or even a single balloon –  wanders off and floats into some nearby power lines, you could knock out power for your whole neighborhood. A single mylar balloon caused a major power outage in Arcata just a few years ago.

Check out the video above to see what can happen if you’re irresponsible with your metallic balloons.


Press release from Pacific Gas and Electric Company:

SANTA ROSA, Calif.— With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) reminds customers that sparks – and not just the romantic kind – can fly on February 14 if improperly secured helium-filled metallic balloons come in contact with power lines.

Metallic balloons conduct electricity and if they float into powerlines, they can disrupt electric service to an entire neighborhood, cause significant property damage and potentially result in serious injuries. Here’s an example of what can happen when metallic balloons become loose and hit power lines: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jzefJfBbNA

In 2023, metallic balloons striking electric lines caused 332 power outages in PG&E’s service area, knocking out power to more than 157,000 homes and business. On average, each customer outage caused by a balloon lasted about 83 minutes. Here are some outages by region:

  • Sonoma County – 10 balloon-caused outages, knocking out power to 5,638 customers.
  • Marin and Napa Counties - 10 balloon-caused outages, knocking out power to 8,233 customers.
  • Humboldt and Lake Counties - 3 balloon-caused outages, knocking out power to 255 customers.
“Balloons are a fun way to liven up Valentine’s celebrations, but if they aren’t tied down with a weight, it’s easy for them to float into overhead power lines and disrupt service to entire communities. Keep your holidays and hometowns safe by ensuring metallic balloons are secured by a weight,” said Ron Richardson, Vice President of Electric Distribution Operations at PG&E.

In order to significantly reduce the number of balloon-caused outages and to help ensure that everyone can safely enjoy their Valentine’s Day, PG&E reminds customers to follow these important safety tips for metallic balloons:

  • “Look Up and Live!” Use caution and avoid celebrating with metallic balloons near overhead electric lines.
  • Make sure helium-filled metallic balloons are securely tied to a weight that is heavy enough to prevent them from floating away. Never remove the weight.
  • When possible, keep metallic balloons indoors. Never permit metallic balloons to be released outside, for everyone’s safety.
  • Do not bundle metallic balloons together.
  • Never attempt to retrieve any type of balloon, kite or toy that becomes caught in a power line. Leave it alone, and immediately call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000 to report the problem.
  • Never go near a power line that has fallen to the ground or is dangling in the air. Always assume downed electric lines are energized and extremely dangerous. Stay far away, keep others away and immediately call 911 to alert the police and fire departments. Other tips can be found at pge.com/beprepared.