Propane Info » Important Propane Safey Information
What Should I Do If I Smell Gas?
If you smell a leak, or in the event of a fire, immediately evacuate everyone from the building or area and call the fire department (911) from your neighbor's phone. DO NOT remain in the building, use the telephone or light switches, or try to determine the source of the leak by yourself.
- If an appliance valve or a 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 IS REQUIRED. In many states, a propane retailer or a qualified service technician must perform a leak check of your propane system before turning on the gas.
- SET UP REGULAR DELIVERY. Establish a regular delivery schedule with your propane retailer. Also, periodically check the fuel gauge on your propane tank. If the fuel level drops below 20%, call your propane retailer.
- DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES try to modify or repair valves, regulators, connectors, controls, or other appliance and cylinder/tank parts. Doing so creates the risk of a gas leak.
- CALL AN EXPERT. If you are unable to operate any part of your propane system, or if you think an appliance or other device is not operating properly, call your propane retailer or a qualified service technician. They can inspect, adjust, repair, or replace any part of your propane system.
- YOUR PROPANE SYSTEM IS DESIGNED FOR SAFETY. Propane cylinders, tanks, and appliances incorporate special components (such as valves, connectors, controls, burners, and pilot lights) to keep them safe for use. Damaging these components can cause gas leaks
What Should I Do If My Pilot Light Goes Out?
IT IS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED THAT A QUALIFIED SERVICE TECHNICIAN LIGHT ANY PILOT LIGHT THAT HAS GONE OUT.
WHAT IS A PILOT LIGHT? Many propane appliances may have a pilot light—a small, constantly burning flame inside the appliance. (Appliances without a pilot light often have electronic ignition instead.) If your appliance has a pilot light, it is an important safety feature. The pilot light ignites the main burner when needed.
WHEN A PILOT LIGHT GOES OUT. A pilot light that repeatedly goes out—or is very difficult to light—may be signaling that there is a problem with the appliance or with your propane system. If this occurs, do not try to fix the problem yourself. Contact a qualified service technician to evaluate the appliance. Accidents and serious injuries can occur when customers attempt to fix a pilot light problem on their own.
IF YOU LIGHT A PILOT LIGHT YOURSELF, you are taking the risk of STARTING a fire or AN explosion. Many serious injuries occur when people attempt to light pilot lights.
- Vapors from flammable products—such as gasoline, kerosene, paint thinner, and solvents —can be ignited accidentally by the pilot light of a propane appliance.
- Flammable vapors are often heavier than air and may travel along the ground and collect in low or confined areas (such as a basement or pit). Sometimes the vapors may follow air currents in the building to higher levels. Any source of ignition in these areas (such as a pilot light, spark, heater element, or electric motor) could cause an explosion or a fire.
TO HELP REDUCE THE RISK OF FLAMMABLE VAPOR IGNITION:
- Store flammable liquids in well-sealed containers outside.
- Do not use gasoline, cleaning fluids, oil-soaked rags, or other flammable liquids inside a building where propane appliances are located.
PROPANE VAPORS CAN BE DANGEROUS. Propane vapor is also combustible and can ignite explosively. Keep propane storage containers closed. Never store propane cylinders in an enclosed area, or near a heat or ignition source.
How Do I Recognize The Smell Of Propane?
Propane has a strong, unpleasant smell like rotten eggs, a skunk’s spray, or a dead animal. Propane manufacturers add the smell deliberately to help alert customers to propane leaks, which can create a safety hazard.
TAKE THE SNIFF TEST. Teach everyone in your home or building what propane smells like. You can use the blue circle on the page opposite of the inside front cover. Or, ask your propane retailer for a demonstration.
CAN YOU SMELL IT?
It may be hard for some people to smell propane for the following reasons:
- They have a cold, allergies, sinus congestion, or another medical condition.
- Their sense of smell is reduced due to use of tobacco, alcohol, or drugs.
- Tobacco smoke, cooking odors, and other strong odors can mask the smell of propane.
- As people age, their sense of smell can become less sensitive.
- If the smell of propane is present in the air over a period of time, “odor fatigue” can occur. The nose “gets tired,” and a person no longer smells the propane odor.
- The propane smell may not be strong enough to wake up someone who is sleeping.
- The propane smell may be in a location (basement or attic) where it is not detected by people in other areas of the building.
A phenomenon called “odor fade” can occur—an unintended reduction in the concentration of the odor of propane.
What Is Odor Fade?
ODOR FADE ALSO CAN DIMINISH PROPANE’S SMELL.
Odor fade is an unintended reduction in the concentration of the odor of propane, making it more difficult to smell. Although rare, several situations can cause odor fade:
- Air, water, or rust in a propane tank or cylinder can reduce propane odor concentration.
- If the propane is leaking underground, its passage through soil may reduce the smell of propane.
- The propane odor may stick to the inside surfaces of gas piping and distribution systems and possibly other materials.
Since there is a possibility of odor fade 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 Is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and toxic gas. Smoking a cigarette; idling a gasoline engine; and burning fuel oil, wood, kerosene, natural gas, and propane all produce CO. High levels of CO can be produced when fuels are burned incompletely.
WHERE DO HIGH LEVELS OF CO COME FROM? 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 (for example, by a bird’s nest).
CO CAN BE DEADLY! High levels of CO can make you dizzy, give you headaches, or cause flu-like symptoms (see the list below). In extreme cases, high levels of or extended exposure to CO can result in brain damage or death. Young children; the elderly; people with heart disease; and those under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication are particularly susceptible to CO poisoning.
Symptoms of CO poisoning include:
- Shortness of breath
CO DETECTORS CAN IMPROVE SAFETY. CO detectors are designed to sound an alarm when they sense excessive levels of CO in the air. We recommend that you consider installing 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. These devices can provide an extra measure of safety.
IF YOU SUSPECT CO IS PRESENT, ACT IMMEDIATELY!
- 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.
- 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.
- If no one has physical symptoms of CO poisoning, but you suspect that CO is present, call your propane retailer or a qualified service technician to check CO levels and your propane equipment.
TO HELP REDUCE THE RISK OF CO POISONING:
- Have a qualified service technician check your propane appliances and venting systems annually, preferably before the heating season begins.
- Install UL-listed CO detectors on every level of your home.
- 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 barbecue grill (propane or charcoal) indoors for cooking or heating.
- Regularly check your appliance exhaust vents for blockage.
SIGNS OF IMPROPER APPLIANCE OPERATION THAT CAN GENERATE HIGH CO LEVELS:
- Sooting, especially on appliances and vents
- Unfamiliar or burning odor
- Increased moisture inside of windows
Is Propane Dangerous To The Environment?
No. Propane is an approved, alternative clean fuel listed in the 1990 Clean Air Act and the National Energy Policy Act of 1992. Propane is one of the cleanest burning of all alternative fuels; new propane-fueled vehicles can meet the very tough Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) standards, and one model even meets the Super Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) standards. Propane is also nontoxic, so it’s not harmful to soil or water.