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propane safety & training

"Professional, reliable propane service... where and when you need it!"

Propane characteristics

•  Propane is an odorless, colourless gas. A powerful stench odourant (smells like boiling cabbage) is added to aid in the detection of leaks.
•  Propane gas is heavier than air, so in the event of a leak it tends to settle in low areas, though slight air movement is normally adequate to dissipate it safely.
•  Propane is a flammable gas. Like any fuel it will burn in the presence of a source of ignition and the proper proportion of oxygen.
•  Liquid propane is extremely cold and can cause freeze burns upon contact with skin.
•  Propane’s boiling point is -42 C. In its free form at normal atmospheric pressure and at any temperature above -42 C, propane can only exist as a gas or vapour. It is therefore compressed into liquid form for convenient storage and transportation.

Training requirements

•  All persons required to transfer propane from one container to another must be trained by a certifiable method acceptable to the ruling authority. This applies to gas pump attendants as well as commercial operators of propane filling plants. For more information, contact the propane location nearest you.

Storage and handling

This is not a comprehensive list of Do’s and Don’ts, just a broad overview:

•  Propane must never be stored indoors or near a source of heat or ignition.
•  During transport, propane cylinders must be secured in an upright position, in a well-ventilated space, and they must be equipped with a protective collar.
•  Bulk tanks should never be located where they might come in contact with vehicular traffic unless adequate crash protection is installed.
•  No matter how simple the task may appear, never attempt to handle, install or repair propane tanks or equipment on your own. This type of work should always be performed by an experienced propane gas fitter.

Special precautions

Propane in cold weather

In extremely cold conditions, especially nearing -40 C, there may not be enough vapour pressure in your tank to keep your appliance working properly. Some people believe the propane in their tank has “gelled”, but what is really happening is that the liquid propane isn’t boiling as vigorously as it does at higher temperatures, so there isn’t enough vapour being produced to feed your appliance.

“The colder it is outside, the lower the pressure will be in your tank; conversely, the higher the temperature, the higher the pressure.”

There are several things you can do to avoid pressure problems during cold weather extremes:

•  Keep your tank full – we target to fill tanks when they are at 20 to 25%.
•  Never attempt to cover up your tank. This will merely insulate the propane inside the tank from the natural heat of the daytime sun, potentially worsening the problem.
•  For the same reason, do not allow snow to build up on your tank.
•  Turning your thermostat down will lessen the time your appliance operates, permitting the pressure in the tank to build. Turning your thermostat up will worsen the problem.
•  Keep the regulator at the building free of ice and snow, and never pour water over it.
•  Never use an open flame or electrical device in the vicinity of a propane tank. Accidents involving "heating" a tank to boost pressure are not uncommon.

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide, commonly known as CO, is a colourless, odourless and tasteless toxic gas. When inhaled, CO interferes with the blood's ability to absorb and transport oxygen; thus, it can be deadly.
Carbon monoxide is a by-product of incomplete combustion that can be produced by any carbon-based fuel when there is a lack of oxygen.

Propane appliances, like all other fuel-burning appliances, can present the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning if not installed, operated, vented or maintained properly. Even a small amount of CO is dangerous in enclosed spaces like your home, garage, vehicle, cottage, boat, recreational vehicle or tent. Exposure to carbon monoxide causes flu-like symptoms such as:

•  headaches
•  tightness across the forehead and temples
•  weakness
•  nausea
•  dizziness
•  drowsiness
•  confusion
•  impaired judgment
•  loss of muscular control
•  watering and smarting of the eyes
•  shortness of breath
•  loss of consciousness

In severe cases, CO poisoning can cause brain damage and death. Some people can be particularly sensitive to carbon monoxide and may feel the effects sooner. Be aware of these environmental signs:

•  Abnormal odour when your furnace or other fuel-burning appliances turn on.
•  The air feels stale or stuffy.
•  Abnormal moisture forming on windows and walls.
•  Soot on any equipment or a yellow flame at the burner tip of a propane appliance indicates that the gas may not be burning completely, which may cause carbon monoxide.

Act fast if CO poisoning is suspected

•  Leave the building immediately.
•  Call 911 or your local fire department.
•  Seek medical help.
•  Have your propane appliances checked and repaired as needed.

Call before you dig

If you have a propane tank located on your premises and plan on doing any type of excavating or posthole digging "Dial BEFORE You Dig": call your propane supplier and have them stake out the path of the underground propane line. If you do hit a line, immediately turn off the service valve located under the dome of the tank.

Dealing with a propane leak

Propane leaks can be detected in a number of ways; propane’s sulfur-like stench (like boiling cabbage) is usually the first sign. An audible hiss from a line or fitting is another good indication. Small leaks might go undetected for some time, in which case a black greasy residue at a fitting might be your first sign.

In all cases, leaks should never go untended. Call your propane supplier immediately if you believe you have a leak. The quickest and safest way to isolate and end a leak is to shut off the main service valve at the tank or cylinder; to close a valve turn it clockwise.

If you are in a situation where you suspect a leak and cannot reach a service person for assistance, you can do a quick check yourself. Mix some liquid dish detergent with water, then stir, shake or otherwise agitate the solution until it is nice and sudsy. Using a brush or some other such device, wrap the joints and fittings (and gas line if practical) with the sudsy solution. If a leak is present, it will “blow bubbles”. If this occurs, close the service valve and call your propane supplier.

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