LADWP Warning: Mylar Balloons Can Pose Serious Safety Risks & Cause Power Outages
Posted by Councilmember Englander on June 05, 2015 at 10:00 AM
With graduation season upon us, LADWP is warning customers about the dangers of Mylar balloons, which look great as decorations but are dangerous if they come in contact with power lines.
Each year, thousands of LADWP customers experience power outages caused by Mylar balloons coming in contact with electrical equipment. Stray Mylar balloons cause approximately 200 power outages a year - about one Mylar-related outage every other day in the City of Los Angeles.
On Memorial Day weekend, 923 customers in the Sherman Way/Coldwater Canyon area of the San Fernando Valley lost power for the entire day due to Mylar balloons that were released and came into contact with high-voltage power lines. The metallic balloons caused an electrical arc involving more than 34,000 volts of electricity, causing four spans of electric wires – one over 1,500 feet in length – to fall to the ground.
In the last three years, 587 power outages were caused by Mylar balloons in the City of Los Angeles. Mylar balloons have a silvery metallic coating which is a conductor for electricity. When the balloons float to the sky and make contact with power lines, they can short transformers, cause power outages, melt electrical wires and cause them to fail.
Here are the safety precautions LADWP recommends for handling Mylar balloons safely:
- Always attach a weight to Mylar balloons
- Never release a Mylar balloon outdoors
- Keep Mylar balloons away from power lines
- Never use metallic ribbon with Mylar balloons
- Always deflate Mylar balloons completely and dispose of them properly
- 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. Do not attempt to climb the pole or try to retrieve the object. Call the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power at 1-800-DIAL DWP. Always assume the power lines are energized.
California law requires that all Mylar balloons—single or in “bouquets”—are anchored with a weight to prevent travelling up into the power lines. The law also prohibits metallic ribbon from being attached to helium-filled balloons. Florists and other merchants should always make certain that Mylar balloons are properly weighted, and should remind their customers not to release them outdoors.
-Los Angeles Department of Water and Power