Safety

Propane Gas Detectors

 If you are concerned that you or others in your home may have difficulty smelling propane, consider buying one or more propane gas detectors. These detectors sound an alarm if they sense the presence of propane. Their operation does not depend on the concentration of odorant in the air, just the propane concentration at the detector.

Detector quality is important! Be sure the unit(s) you buy are listed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). To be sure propane gas detectors operate properly, install and maintain them as the manufacturer recommends.

Even if you install gas detectors, have a qualified service technician inspect your propane system and appliances periodically. NEVER ignore the smell of propane, even if no detector is sounding an alarm.

 Carbon Monoxide

 Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and toxic gas. Smoking a cigarette; running an internal combustion engine; and burning candles, fuel oil, kerosene, natural gas, or propane may produce CO. High levels of CO can be generated by appliances that are defective or improperly installed or maintained. CO can also enter a home if an appliance venting system or chimney becomes blocked.

CO detectors can improve safety. They are designed to sound an alarm when they sense excessive levels of CO in the air. For an extra measure of safety, it is recommended that you install a CO detector listed by UL on each level of your home. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding installation, location, and maintenance.

If you suspect CO is present:

  • If someone shows physical symptoms of CO poisoning, get everyone out of the building and call 911 or your local fire department.
  • If no one shows physical symptoms of CO poisoning, but you suspect CO is present, call your propane retailer or qualified service technician to check CO levels and your propane equipment.
  • If it is safe to do so, open windows to allow entry of fresh air, and turn off any appliances you suspect may be releasing the CO.

Symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, and nausea.

Even if you install CO detectors, have a qualified service technician inspect your propane system, appliances, and venting periodically.

NEVER use a gas oven or range-top burners to provide space heating. Never use portable heaters indoors unless they are designed and approved for indoor use. Never use a barbeque grill indoors for cooking or heating. 

*Propane Education & Research Council*

What does propane smell like?

Propane has a strong, unpleasant smell like rotten eggs, a skunk’s spray, or a dead animal. Some people may have difficulty smelling propane due to age, a medical condition, or effects of medication, alcohol, tobacco, or drugs.

On rare occasions, propane can lose its odor. This can be caused by the presence of air, water, or rust in a propane tank or by the passage of leaking propane through soil.

Since there is a possibility of odor loss or problems with your sense of smell, you should respond immediately to even a faint odor of gas. If you are concerned that you or others in your home may have difficulty smelling propane, consider buying one or more propane gas detectors.

What should I do if I smell propane? 

  1. NO FLAMES OR SPARKS
    Immediately put out all smoking materials and other open flames. Do not operate lights, appliances, telephones, or cell phones. Flames or sparks from these sources can trigger an explosion or a fire.
  2. LEAVE THE AREA IMMEIDATELY
    Get everyone out of the building or area where you suspect gas is leaking.
  3. SHUT OFF THE GAS
    Turn off the main gas supply valve on your propane tank, if it is safe to do so. To close the valve, turn it to the right (clockwise).
  4. REPORT THE LEAK
    From a neighbor’s home or other nearby building away from the gas leak, call your propane retailer right away. If you can’t reach your propane retailer, call 911 or your local fire department.
  5. DO NOT RETURN TO THE BUILDING/AREA
    Do not return until your propane retailer, emergency responder, or qualified service technician determines that it is safe to do so.
  6. GET YOUR SYSTEM CHECKED
    Before you attempt to use any of your propane appliances, you propane retailer or a qualified service technician must check your entire system to ensure that it is leak-free.

*Propane Education & Research Council*

Running Out of Gas

Serious safety hazards, including fire or explosion, can result from running out of gas.

  • If an appliance valve or gas line is left open when the propane supply runs out, a leak could occur when the system is recharged with propane.
  • Air and moisture could get into an empty or depleted storage tank, which can cause rust build-up inside the tank. Rust can decrease the concentration of the odor of propane, making it harder to smell.
  • If your propane tank runs out of gas, any pilot lights on your appliances will go out. This can be extremely dangerous if not handled properly.
  • A leak check must be performed by your propane retailer before turning on the gas. This may require an additional charge.

Avoid these hazards by opting for automatic delivery or checking your gauge periodically. Call your propane retailer when your tank is around 25%.

Lighting Pilot Lights

A pilot light is a small, constantly burning flame inside many propane appliances. It is an important safety feature that ignites the main burner when needed.

A pilot light that repeatedly goes out, or is very difficult to light, may be signaling a problem with the appliance or propane system. If this occurs, contact a qualified service technician to evaluate.

It is strongly recommended that a qualified service technician light any pilot light that has gone out. By lighting a pilot light yourself, you are taking the risk of starting a fire or explosion. Serious injuries can occur. Proceed with caution and follow these rules:

  • Carefully follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings concerning the appliance.
  • If the appliance is in a basement or closed room, thoroughly ventilate the area before lighting.
  • Be especially alert for the smell of propane. Sniff at floor level. If you smell gas, do not light the pilot. Do not try to light pilot lights in any area where other odors may make it difficult to detect the smell of propane.
  • Do not smoke or have any source of ignition (flames or spark-producing materials) in the area before lighting.
  • Do not apply force or use tools other than your hands to operate knobs, switches, or buttons.

Appliance Maintenance

All appliances using propane must be properly maintained in order to operate safely, properly, and efficiently. Only a qualified service technician has the proper training to install, service, maintain, and repair your appliance. It is important to contact your qualified service technician to perform an annual inspection.

Regularly check the vents of your appliances to be sure that flue gases can flow easily to the outdoors. Insects, birds, and small animals sometimes build nests in vent pipes. Other obstructions, such as snow or ice, may also occur. Also, clear the area around your appliance to be sure plenty of air can reach the burner for proper combustion.

When appliances are operating properly, propane burns with a blue flame. If you see yellow flames, or notice significant amounts of soot on any equipment, the gas may not be burning completely. This can create carbon monoxide. Contact a qualified service technician if these conditions occur.

*Propane Education & Research Council*

Transporting 

  • Always transport and store a cylinder in a secure and upright position so it won’t fall, shift, or roll.
  • Always close the cylinder valve and, if required, seal with a plug, even if the cylinder is empty.
  • Never keep a filled cylinder inside a hot vehicle.
  • Always place the cylinder in a well-ventilated area of the vehicle.
  • Always proceed directly to your destination and immediately remove the cylinder from your vehicle.

Storing 

  • Never store or place a propane cylinder indoors or in an enclosed area such as a basement, garage, shed, or tent.
  • Never store or place a propane cylinder in an area of excessive heat (120°F +) or near a stove, fireplace, or other heat source. The heat builds up pressure inside the cylinder, which may cause the pressure relief valve to release propane. Flash fires or explosions can result from exposing cylinders to heat.
  • Do not smoke or have any ignition sources such as flames or spark-producing electrical tools in the area while handling or transporting cylinders.

Testing for Leaks 

It is important to inspect your cylinder and outdoor gas appliances for leaks. Do this before using them for the first time each season, as well as on a regular basis. This can be accomplished with a simple “bubble” test:

  1. Apply leak detector solution or thick soapy water to the connection(s) between the cylinder valve and the regulator outlet.
  2. Slowly open the cylinder valve and watch for bubbles.
  3. If bubbles appear, close the cylinder valve, tighten the connection, and repeat the process. If bubbles still appear, call your propane retailer immediately.

Other Important Notes 

Make sure your cylinder is equipped with an overfill prevention device (OPD). An overfilled cylinder doesn’t have enough space left if the liquid expands when exposed to warmer temperatures. This can cause an increase in cylinder pressure and create potentially hazardous conditions.

DO NOT, under any circumstances, try to modify or repair valves, regulators, or other cylinder or appliance parts. Call your propane retailer or qualified service technician for assistance.

NEVER use a damaged cylinder or a cylinder that has been in a fire.

NEVER dispose of your propane cylinder by throwing it in the trash.

*Propane Education & Research Council*

Safe Grilling Tips 

  • Follow the grill manufacturer’s instructions regarding assembly, use, maintenance, cleaning, or storage.
  • Always use and store cylinders outdoors in an upright (vertical) position.
  • Do not store or transport cylinders in or near high temperatures.
  • Before use, check the hoses for cracks, holes, and leaks. Check the tank for any dents, gouges, or corrosion. Clean off any old grease, dust, or cobwebs.
  • Make sure the top is open when lighting a grill.
  • Only grill outdoors in an open area with proper ventilation. Keep the grill at least five feet from any building and on a level surface clear of any obstructions or potential fire hazards.
  • Never pour accelerants, such as lighter fluid, on the grill.
  • Stay close! Never leave your grill unattended.
  • When not in use, make sure all grill burner controls are off and the cylinder valve is closed.

Storm Safety

If flooding is predicted for your area, turn off the main gas supply valve on your propane tank, if it is safe to do so. To close the valve, turn it to the right (clockwise). Also, it’s a good idea to turn off the gas supply valves located near individual indoor appliances. Do not turn the gas back on until the gas system and appliance(s) have been checked by a qualified service technician.

After the storm passes and it is safe to do so, check the area for downed power lines, damaged gas lines, or damage to your propane tank. If it’s dark, use flashlights, not candles. Inspect your propane appliances for water or other damage.

DO NOT ever turn on a light switch, use any power source, or inspect your appliances while standing in water.

NEVER use a portable generator indoors or in an enclosed area such as a basement, garage, or shed.

Winter Weather Safety

  • Always maintain an adequate supply of propane in your tank, as a severe storm can delay deliveries.
  • Make sure your propane tank, whether it is located above or below ground, is marked properly by a flag or stake higher than the anticipated snow depth. This will ensure you, your propane retailer, and even a snowplow operator can locate your tank at all times. Also, mark your secondary pressure regulator or meter (near the side of your home).
  • Clear the walkway and tank area so your propane retailer can easily access and fill your tank.
  • Clear heavy snow and ice from regulators, vents, chimneys, and valves. Clear snow carefully, with a broom or your hands rather than a shovel to avoid damage

NEVER use a gas oven or range-top burners to provide space heating. Never use portable heaters indoors unless they are designed and approved for indoor use. Never use a barbeque grill indoors for cooking or heating.

+ Safety Basics

Propane Gas Detectors

 If you are concerned that you or others in your home may have difficulty smelling propane, consider buying one or more propane gas detectors. These detectors sound an alarm if they sense the presence of propane. Their operation does not depend on the concentration of odorant in the air, just the propane concentration at the detector.

Detector quality is important! Be sure the unit(s) you buy are listed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). To be sure propane gas detectors operate properly, install and maintain them as the manufacturer recommends.

Even if you install gas detectors, have a qualified service technician inspect your propane system and appliances periodically. NEVER ignore the smell of propane, even if no detector is sounding an alarm.

 Carbon Monoxide

 Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and toxic gas. Smoking a cigarette; running an internal combustion engine; and burning candles, fuel oil, kerosene, natural gas, or propane may produce CO. High levels of CO can be generated by appliances that are defective or improperly installed or maintained. CO can also enter a home if an appliance venting system or chimney becomes blocked.

CO detectors can improve safety. They are designed to sound an alarm when they sense excessive levels of CO in the air. For an extra measure of safety, it is recommended that you install a CO detector listed by UL on each level of your home. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding installation, location, and maintenance.

If you suspect CO is present:

  • If someone shows physical symptoms of CO poisoning, get everyone out of the building and call 911 or your local fire department.
  • If no one shows physical symptoms of CO poisoning, but you suspect CO is present, call your propane retailer or qualified service technician to check CO levels and your propane equipment.
  • If it is safe to do so, open windows to allow entry of fresh air, and turn off any appliances you suspect may be releasing the CO.

Symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, and nausea.

Even if you install CO detectors, have a qualified service technician inspect your propane system, appliances, and venting periodically.

NEVER use a gas oven or range-top burners to provide space heating. Never use portable heaters indoors unless they are designed and approved for indoor use. Never use a barbeque grill indoors for cooking or heating. 

*Propane Education & Research Council*

+ If You Smell Gas

What does propane smell like?

Propane has a strong, unpleasant smell like rotten eggs, a skunk’s spray, or a dead animal. Some people may have difficulty smelling propane due to age, a medical condition, or effects of medication, alcohol, tobacco, or drugs.

On rare occasions, propane can lose its odor. This can be caused by the presence of air, water, or rust in a propane tank or by the passage of leaking propane through soil.

Since there is a possibility of odor loss or problems with your sense of smell, you should respond immediately to even a faint odor of gas. If you are concerned that you or others in your home may have difficulty smelling propane, consider buying one or more propane gas detectors.

What should I do if I smell propane? 

  1. NO FLAMES OR SPARKS
    Immediately put out all smoking materials and other open flames. Do not operate lights, appliances, telephones, or cell phones. Flames or sparks from these sources can trigger an explosion or a fire.
  2. LEAVE THE AREA IMMEIDATELY
    Get everyone out of the building or area where you suspect gas is leaking.
  3. SHUT OFF THE GAS
    Turn off the main gas supply valve on your propane tank, if it is safe to do so. To close the valve, turn it to the right (clockwise).
  4. REPORT THE LEAK
    From a neighbor’s home or other nearby building away from the gas leak, call your propane retailer right away. If you can’t reach your propane retailer, call 911 or your local fire department.
  5. DO NOT RETURN TO THE BUILDING/AREA
    Do not return until your propane retailer, emergency responder, or qualified service technician determines that it is safe to do so.
  6. GET YOUR SYSTEM CHECKED
    Before you attempt to use any of your propane appliances, you propane retailer or a qualified service technician must check your entire system to ensure that it is leak-free.

*Propane Education & Research Council*

+ System Safety

Running Out of Gas

Serious safety hazards, including fire or explosion, can result from running out of gas.

  • If an appliance valve or gas line is left open when the propane supply runs out, a leak could occur when the system is recharged with propane.
  • Air and moisture could get into an empty or depleted storage tank, which can cause rust build-up inside the tank. Rust can decrease the concentration of the odor of propane, making it harder to smell.
  • If your propane tank runs out of gas, any pilot lights on your appliances will go out. This can be extremely dangerous if not handled properly.
  • A leak check must be performed by your propane retailer before turning on the gas. This may require an additional charge.

Avoid these hazards by opting for automatic delivery or checking your gauge periodically. Call your propane retailer when your tank is around 25%.

Lighting Pilot Lights

A pilot light is a small, constantly burning flame inside many propane appliances. It is an important safety feature that ignites the main burner when needed.

A pilot light that repeatedly goes out, or is very difficult to light, may be signaling a problem with the appliance or propane system. If this occurs, contact a qualified service technician to evaluate.

It is strongly recommended that a qualified service technician light any pilot light that has gone out. By lighting a pilot light yourself, you are taking the risk of starting a fire or explosion. Serious injuries can occur. Proceed with caution and follow these rules:

  • Carefully follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings concerning the appliance.
  • If the appliance is in a basement or closed room, thoroughly ventilate the area before lighting.
  • Be especially alert for the smell of propane. Sniff at floor level. If you smell gas, do not light the pilot. Do not try to light pilot lights in any area where other odors may make it difficult to detect the smell of propane.
  • Do not smoke or have any source of ignition (flames or spark-producing materials) in the area before lighting.
  • Do not apply force or use tools other than your hands to operate knobs, switches, or buttons.

Appliance Maintenance

All appliances using propane must be properly maintained in order to operate safely, properly, and efficiently. Only a qualified service technician has the proper training to install, service, maintain, and repair your appliance. It is important to contact your qualified service technician to perform an annual inspection.

Regularly check the vents of your appliances to be sure that flue gases can flow easily to the outdoors. Insects, birds, and small animals sometimes build nests in vent pipes. Other obstructions, such as snow or ice, may also occur. Also, clear the area around your appliance to be sure plenty of air can reach the burner for proper combustion.

When appliances are operating properly, propane burns with a blue flame. If you see yellow flames, or notice significant amounts of soot on any equipment, the gas may not be burning completely. This can create carbon monoxide. Contact a qualified service technician if these conditions occur.

*Propane Education & Research Council*

+ Small Cylinder Safety

Transporting 

  • Always transport and store a cylinder in a secure and upright position so it won’t fall, shift, or roll.
  • Always close the cylinder valve and, if required, seal with a plug, even if the cylinder is empty.
  • Never keep a filled cylinder inside a hot vehicle.
  • Always place the cylinder in a well-ventilated area of the vehicle.
  • Always proceed directly to your destination and immediately remove the cylinder from your vehicle.

Storing 

  • Never store or place a propane cylinder indoors or in an enclosed area such as a basement, garage, shed, or tent.
  • Never store or place a propane cylinder in an area of excessive heat (120°F +) or near a stove, fireplace, or other heat source. The heat builds up pressure inside the cylinder, which may cause the pressure relief valve to release propane. Flash fires or explosions can result from exposing cylinders to heat.
  • Do not smoke or have any ignition sources such as flames or spark-producing electrical tools in the area while handling or transporting cylinders.

Testing for Leaks 

It is important to inspect your cylinder and outdoor gas appliances for leaks. Do this before using them for the first time each season, as well as on a regular basis. This can be accomplished with a simple “bubble” test:

  1. Apply leak detector solution or thick soapy water to the connection(s) between the cylinder valve and the regulator outlet.
  2. Slowly open the cylinder valve and watch for bubbles.
  3. If bubbles appear, close the cylinder valve, tighten the connection, and repeat the process. If bubbles still appear, call your propane retailer immediately.

Other Important Notes 

Make sure your cylinder is equipped with an overfill prevention device (OPD). An overfilled cylinder doesn’t have enough space left if the liquid expands when exposed to warmer temperatures. This can cause an increase in cylinder pressure and create potentially hazardous conditions.

DO NOT, under any circumstances, try to modify or repair valves, regulators, or other cylinder or appliance parts. Call your propane retailer or qualified service technician for assistance.

NEVER use a damaged cylinder or a cylinder that has been in a fire.

NEVER dispose of your propane cylinder by throwing it in the trash.

*Propane Education & Research Council*

+ Seasonal Information

Safe Grilling Tips 

  • Follow the grill manufacturer’s instructions regarding assembly, use, maintenance, cleaning, or storage.
  • Always use and store cylinders outdoors in an upright (vertical) position.
  • Do not store or transport cylinders in or near high temperatures.
  • Before use, check the hoses for cracks, holes, and leaks. Check the tank for any dents, gouges, or corrosion. Clean off any old grease, dust, or cobwebs.
  • Make sure the top is open when lighting a grill.
  • Only grill outdoors in an open area with proper ventilation. Keep the grill at least five feet from any building and on a level surface clear of any obstructions or potential fire hazards.
  • Never pour accelerants, such as lighter fluid, on the grill.
  • Stay close! Never leave your grill unattended.
  • When not in use, make sure all grill burner controls are off and the cylinder valve is closed.

Storm Safety

If flooding is predicted for your area, turn off the main gas supply valve on your propane tank, if it is safe to do so. To close the valve, turn it to the right (clockwise). Also, it’s a good idea to turn off the gas supply valves located near individual indoor appliances. Do not turn the gas back on until the gas system and appliance(s) have been checked by a qualified service technician.

After the storm passes and it is safe to do so, check the area for downed power lines, damaged gas lines, or damage to your propane tank. If it’s dark, use flashlights, not candles. Inspect your propane appliances for water or other damage.

DO NOT ever turn on a light switch, use any power source, or inspect your appliances while standing in water.

NEVER use a portable generator indoors or in an enclosed area such as a basement, garage, or shed.

Winter Weather Safety

  • Always maintain an adequate supply of propane in your tank, as a severe storm can delay deliveries.
  • Make sure your propane tank, whether it is located above or below ground, is marked properly by a flag or stake higher than the anticipated snow depth. This will ensure you, your propane retailer, and even a snowplow operator can locate your tank at all times. Also, mark your secondary pressure regulator or meter (near the side of your home).
  • Clear the walkway and tank area so your propane retailer can easily access and fill your tank.
  • Clear heavy snow and ice from regulators, vents, chimneys, and valves. Clear snow carefully, with a broom or your hands rather than a shovel to avoid damage

NEVER use a gas oven or range-top burners to provide space heating. Never use portable heaters indoors unless they are designed and approved for indoor use. Never use a barbeque grill indoors for cooking or heating.