Foil balloons are fine to celebrate events such as graduations and outdoor happenings, but they can wreak havoc on the electric grid if they get entangled in power lines, Pepco warns.

Foil balloons, also known as mylar balloons, cause Pepco customers to experience unnecessary power outages every year when untethered, the utility company said.

These balloons also have been known to float for days and can end up having a negative impact on the environment. Foil balloons have a metallic coated shell and when they contact with 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 foil balloon contacting electric infrastructure. That caused approximately 12,600 hours customers to spend without power, or 64 minutes per customer over the same time.

Already in 2023, more than 1,000 Pepco customers have experienced a power outage caused by balloons.

Pepco offers some tips to help reduce the potential for future power outages because of balloons:

  • 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 don’t involve balloons. Check out for unique ideas.

If a balloon is caught in a power line, do not attempt to free it. Always assume lines are energized and keep yourself, your belongings and anything you are touching at least 10 feet away at all times. For assistance, call Pepco at 877-737-2662.

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