PROPANE SAFETY

WHAT IS PROPANE?

Propane (also called LPG — liquefied petroleum gas — or LP gas) is a liquid fuel stored under pressure. In most systems, propane is vaporized to a gas before it leaves the tank. Propane is flammable when mixed with air (oxygen) and can be ignited by many sources, including open flames, smoking materials, electrical sparks, and static electricity.


Severe “freeze burn” or frostbite can result if propane liquid comes in contact with your skin.

 

WHAT DOES PROPANE SMELL LIKE?

Propane has a foul odor that has been compared to garbage, sewage, a skunk’s spray, or a dead animal.

Some people may have difficulty smelling propane. Causes may include:

• Age (older people may have a less sensitive sense of smell)

• The effects of medication

• Medical conditions such as colds, allergies, or sinus congestion

• Alcohol, tobacco, or drugs

• Tobacco smoke, cooking odors, musty or damp smells, and other strong odors

 

The propane smell may not wake up someone who is sleeping. It may also be in an area of the building

where it may not be detected, such as a basement, an attic, or a garage.

Odor Loss

Odor loss is an unintended reduction in the concentration of the odor of propane, making it more difficult to smell. Situations that can cause odor loss include the presence of air, water, or rust in a propane tank or cylinder, or the passage of leaking propane through the 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.

Propane Gas Detectors

Under some circumstances, you might not smell a gas leak. Propane gas detectors are designed to sound an alarm if they sense propane, even if the odorant cannot be detected. It is recommended that you consider installing one or more gas detectors listed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) in your home. Detectors can provide an extra measure of safety.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding use. If a detector is sounding an alarm, treat it as an emergency and act immediately, even if you do not smell propane. Never ignore the smell of propane,even if no detector is sounding an alarm.

 

WHAT TO DO IF YOU SMELL GAS?

1.Extinguish all smoking materials and any other open flames or sources of ignition. Everyone should vacate the building, vehicle or area.


2. Exit the premises without using any electric switches, appliances, thermostats or telephones.


3. If it is safe to do so, close the gas shutoff valve on the propane tank or cylinder.


4. Report the leak. Once you are safely away from the leak, call your propane provider right away. If you cannot reach your propane provider, please contact 911 or your local fire department.


5. Even if you do not continue to smell propane, do not open or turn on the propane supply valve. Do not re-enter the building, vehicle or area. Let a qualified propane service technician and/or emergency personnel check for escaped propane.


6. Have a properly trained propane service technician repair the leak. The propane service technician or emergency responder needs to determine that the leak situation has been fully resolved.


The propane service technician should check all of your gas appliances and relight any appliance pilots.


7. Return to the building, camper, RV or area only when the qualified service technician or emergency personnel indicates it is safe to do so.

 

DO NOT RUN OUT OF GAS

Monitor Your Fuel Gauge

Check the fuel gauge on your propane tank periodically. Contact your propane retailer if the propane level is low (less than 30%). If you do run out of gas, close the shut-off valve on your propane tank.

If your propane tank runs out of gas, any pilot lights on your appliances will go out. This can be extremely dangerous.

A Leak Check is Required

Many states including Texas require the propane system to be checked for leaks before turning on the gas. Contact your propane retailer or a qualified professional to perform a leak check and turn on the gas.

 

CARBON MONOXIDE & YOUR SAFETY

What is Carbon Monoxide (CO)?

You cannot taste or smell carbon monoxide, but it is a very dangerous gas, produced when any fuel burns. High levels of carbon monoxide can come from appliances that are not operating correctly, or from a venting system or chimney that becomes blocked.

 
Symptoms of CO poisoning include:

headache, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, and fatigue. In extreme cases, CO can cause brain damage or death.

If you suspect CO is present act immediately!

1. If you or a family member shows physical symptoms of CO poisoning, get everyone out of the building and call 911 or your local fire department.

2. 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 CO.

3. If no one has symptoms, but you suspect that CO is present, call your propane retailer or a qualified service technician to check CO levels and your propane equipment.

Help Reduce Your Risk of CO Poisoning:
  • Install UL-listed CO detectors in your home. Test alarms once a month to make sure they are working order.

  • Have a qualified technician check your propane appliances and related venting systems annually.

  • Regularly check your appliance exhaust vents for blockage and have obstructions removed.

  • Never use a gas oven or range-top burners to provide space heating.

  • Never use a barbecue grill (propane or charcoal) indoors for cooking or heating.

  • Never use portable heaters indoors unless they are designed and approved for indoor use.

  • Additionally, portable generators must be operated OUTSIDE ONLY.

Signs of improper appliance operation that can generate high carbon monoxide levels:
  • Sooting, especially on appliances and vents

  • Unfamiliar or burning odor

  • Increased moisture inside of windows

  • Yellow flames

 

APPLIANCE MAINTENANCE

  • Read your manuals. Your manufacturer’s user manuals that come with your appliances are great resources. Refer to the manuals for proper operating and maintenance instructions.

  • Designed with a purpose. Only use propane appliances for the purpose for which they are designed. For example, never use an outdoor propane appliance indoors.

  • Leave it to the experts. Only a qualified professional has the training to install, inspect, service, maintain, and repair your appliances.

  • Not all appliances are convertible. Many gas appliances from box stores are equipped for either natural gas or propane, or both. For appliances that can be either, they may start with a default natural gas setting. They must first be converted to propane before they can be used. So read the label to ensure the appliance is designed to use LPG, which is another name for propane.

  • Inspection is key. Have your appliances inspected for safety every year.

  • Keep it capped. Any gas line not attached to an appliance should have the valve closed and the ends terminated with a threaded cap or plug. Leaks that occur from open gas lines are extremely dangerous due to the potential for a large volume of gas to be released over a short period of time.

  • Let them breathe. Make sure your propane appliances are well ventilated. Contact a qualified service technician if there are any signs of obstructions.

  • Make sure you see blue. When propane appliances operate properly, the propane flame burns blue. If you see yellow flames or a significant amount of soot on any appliance, the gas may not be burning completely. This can create carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless, and deadly gas. Call a qualified service technician if these conditions occur.

MAINTAIN YOUR TANK

  • Keep it cool. Keep your tank a light, reflective color. It’s required by the State of Texas.

  • Clear the area. Make sure the area within 10 feet of your propane tank is clear of flammable materials. Remove any debris that is combustible or easily ignited, including leaves, brush, and any vegetation. Ensure the driveway and pathway to your tank is clear from obstructions and low over-hanging branches that can prevent your propane delivery driver from getting to and replenishing your tank.

  • Have an underground tank? It needs tender loving care, too.

  • Maintain it. Although underground tanks are designed especially for Placement in the ground, nature can corrode a steel tank that is not properly.

  • Protected. Properly maintained underground tanks can last for many decades So it is important that your service provider performs cathodic protection, routine Testing, and maintenance, which is required by the State of Texas.

  • Be aware. Underground tanks are scarcely noticeable except for filling Connections and valves, which are housed in a small dome protruding just Inches above the ground. Advise all contractors and workers of your underground propane tank’s location whenever construction, excavation, landscaping, and other activity are conducted in the area of the tank.

 

© 2020 by Propane Council of Texas