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The Mylar Menace: Foil Balloons and Their Impact on Power Lines

There are many hazards that can affect power lines and cause outages. Some are obvious, such as lightning and broken tree branches, but there is another menace that may surprise you.

Mylar balloons, while often shiny and bright, can wreak havoc on the electric grid.

These floating foil balloons have a metallic coated shell and when they contact an electric power line can cause significant damage, leading to power outages. From 2018-2022, nearly 12,000 Pepco customers experienced an outage due to a mylar balloon contacting our electric infrastructure. That amounts to about 12,600 hours customers spent without power, or 64 minutes per customer over the same time. Already in 2023, more than 1,000 Pepco customer outages have been caused by balloons.

So what can be done to stop this mylar monster? Here are a few tips:

  • Always keep balloons tethered or attached to weights.
  • Properly dispose of foil balloons by puncturing a hole to release helium that otherwise could cause the balloon to float away.
  • Consider an alternate way to celebrate special holidays and events that doesn’t involve balloons. Check out org for unique ideas on how to celebrate, remember and honor the people who impact our lives without the use of balloons.

If you do see a balloon tangled in an power line, do not attempt to retrieve it. Always assume lines are energized and keep yourself, your belongings and anything you are carrying at least 10 feet away at all times. For assistance, call our emergency line at 1-877-737-2662.

For more electric safety tips, visit