Propane is a safe, reliable fuel. Like many other fuels, however, it is flammable and can be dangerous if not handled properly. Click here for PERC's Top Ten Safe Grilling Tips.
If you SMELL, HEAR, or SEE a gas leak:
Get away from the cylinder.
Do nothing that could ignite the escaping gas.
Using a neighbor's phone, call your propane dealer and the fire department.
Why take these precautions?
Propane is a flammable gas.
Leaking propane may cause fires and explosions if ignited.
Propane has an odor for your safety
In order to quickly recognize a leak, make sure you know what propane smells like. Propane retailers have pamphlets available with a scratch-and-sniff spot to help you learn to recognize the smell. You can also purchase a propane leak detector, similar to carbon monoxide detectors, from your propane supplier.
Under certain circumstances, propane gas could lose the distinctive odor that was added. This is sometimes called "odor fade," and it can occur both in new steel containers when first placed into service and in used steel containers left open to the atmosphere for a long time.
Checking for leaks
Before lighting your propane gas appliance, check all connections for tightness using a leak-detection solution.
DO NOT use matches or lighters to check for leaks. With all the valves on the appliance turned off, slowly open the cylinder valve by turning the handle counterclockwise.
Apply the leak-detection solution to the connections being tested (hose connections, service valve, base and stem of the service valve and regulator).
If bubbles appear, become larger in size, or increase in number at any connection, a leak exists. This must be corrected before you use the appliance. Turn the cylinder service valve handle completely off by turning it clockwise.
Disconnect the regulator connector from the cylinder. Call your local propane gas supplier for further instructions.
The cylinder valve should be closed or left turned off whenever the appliance is not being used.
Connecting and Disconnecting
Connecting a filled cylinder to an appliance
Remove the safety plug or cap from the cylinder valve.
Reattach the connector snugly into the valve. Remember, turn left, or counter-clockwise on POL type valve.
Be sure the appliance valves are turned off before introducing gas back into the system.
Disconnecting a cylinder from the appliance
Turn off the appliance burner valves and cylinder valve.
Place the cylinder valve plug or cap snugly into the valve outlet after disconnecting hose.
Never use propane from a cylinder without a regulator unless it is being used as a motor fuel.
Protect the regulator connector from scratches and dents.
Always position the cylinder so the connection between valve and regulator won't cause sharp bends or kinks in the hose or tubing.
Small Propane Gas Fires
Handling small LP-gas fires with a portable extinguisher
In any propane gas fire, flames should not be extinguished - unless by doing so, the fuel supply can be turned off.
WARNING: If the fire is extinguished and a supply of fuel is not turned off, an explosion hazard greater than the fire hazard could be created.
Care and Handling of Small Propane Cylinders
Always keep cylinders standing upright.
Never use or store cylinders indoors.
Keep cylinders away from heat.
After filling, take cylinders directly home.
Keep cylinders upright and secure.
Keep cylinder valve closed when not in use or when empty.
Put a cap or plug in the cylinder valve outlet, unless it is a quick-connect type of cylinder valve.
Keep your vehicle ventilated.
Never leave cylinders in a vehicle except when transporting.
Poorly maintained, rusted, damaged, or old cylinders may need requalification before filling, or may need to be taken out of service. Federal regulations and NFPA 58 require periodic requalification of all small propane (DOT) cylinders. Do not use or have filled any cylinder due for requalification until it has been properly inspected and requalified and the requalification date stamped on it.
Do not attempt to repair your cylinder, cylinder valve, regulator, or appliance. Call your propane gas supplier.
Overfilling Prevention Device (OPD)
What is an OPD?
Required by national fire and safety standards, an OPD is a safety feature that helps prevent small propane cylinders from being overfilled.
Why have an OPD?
There are limits on how much propane can be put into a cylinder. A properly filled cylinder will have a vapor space left in the top of the cylinder to allow room for expansion of the liquid with a change in atmospheric temperature. An overfilling prevention device is a secondary means of assuring that cylinders are not overfilled.
What can happen if a cylinder is overfilled?
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, such as:
The pressure relief valve may open, discharging propane from the cylinder.
Propane liquid could enter the piping system, resulting in higher than normal pressures to appliances.
How does an OPD work?
During the refilling process, a valve inside the cylinder closes when the proper level of propane is reached. Since the OPD currently in use measures the volume of propane in the cylinder, the weight of the propane will vary depending on its temperature. Check the posted information where you purchase propane to determine the net weight of propane in your cylinder.
When will OPD-equipped cylinders be available?
All DOT cylinders with capacities of 4 pounds up to 40 pounds must have OPD valves.
What happens if I don't have an OPD installed on my cylinder?
As of April 1, 2002, cylinders without OPDs cannot be refilled.
Safety Tips for Children
You can help ensure your child's safety by teaching them these important rules:
Never turn on appliances without an adult present.
Keep papers and toys (especially remote-controlled cars) away from gas furnaces, space heaters, and fire places.
Stay away from propane tanks and pipes.
Never play with matches.
Tell an adult if you smell gas. If you are home by yourself, do not use the phone. Instead go to a neighbors house and alert them.
Have an evacuation plan from different rooms of the house in case there is a fire.