Here's what happens when metallic balloons touch power lines, PG&E warns

If your Valentine’s Day celebrations include showing love with metallic balloons, PG&E reminds you to please keep them tied down to prevent the kind of sparks you don’t want on this romantic holiday.

Pacific Gas & Electric, one of the country’s largest power companies, says metallic balloons conduct electricity, which could spell big trouble if they float into power lines.

"They can disrupt electric service to an entire neighborhood, cause significant property damage and potentially result in serious injuries," PG&E said in a news release.


Metallic, heart-shaped balloons (Getty Images)

The power company shared a link to this video as an example of what can happen when metallic balloons are released into the air:

Metallic balloons on power lines were the cause of 332 power outages for PG&E in 2023, according to the company, affecting more than 157,000 homes and businesses. The average outage caused by a balloon lasted about 83 minutes, PG&E said.

"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," Ron Richardson, vice president of electric distribution operations at PG&E.

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PG&E recommends keeping metallic balloons inside if possible, and make sure they’re always tied to a weight that’s heavy enough to keep them from floating away. They also warn against bundling metallic balloons together.

Learn more power line safety tips here