Helium Shortage Has Some Florists Floating Flat This Valentine's Day

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -- The United States is in the midst of a helium shortage this Valentine's Day season and that could leave have your sweetheart floating off.  While helium for gift balloons only accounts for about 8% of the supply, many florists found themselves flat this heart day.

A bouquet of flowers may be the perfect gift for Valentine's Day but adding balloons can be a fun and whimsical touch, but only if your florist has enough helium to fill it. On the busiest "flower" day of the year, Heather's Way Flower & Plants in Jonesboro is working to get their orders out.

"We usually prepare a good month in advance. We get everything listed out as to what we are wanting to sell and we prepare for any hard goods early on," said florist and owner Heather McMinn.

And they were prepared for the helium hit, buying in advance and making sure to keep an extra tank on hand, no matter what the cost.

"It's running about $115 a tank and that does not include the lease on the tank. That's helium only," said McMinn.

One tank is good for about 300 Mylar balloons and around 400 latex balloons.  Enough to send a message, no matter what language it's in.

"The good thing about balloons is that you just can't hide them in a cubby hole. You notice balloons when you walk through, so whenever somebody really wants to push something and make it showy, add some balloons on there. Because you can't hide them, there's just no way to hide them," said McMinn.

While Heather's Way hasn't felt the sting of the helium shortage yet this year, they have been able to keep up with the demand of balloons for this Valentine's Day season, sending out more than 50 with orders, only on Thursday.

About 20% of the global market for helium is used to super-cool magnets in MRI machines; another 17% is used for laser welding.