What is Propane?
In its natural state, propane is an
odorless and colorless gas that is widely used to fuel appliances
for heating, cooking and other uses. While propane is used as a
gas for fueling appliances, it is transported and stored as a
liquid under high pressure in specially designed containers
referred to either as tanks or cylinders. When liquid propane
changes into a gas vapor, it expands in volume by about 270 times,
meaning that propane is very economical to store and transport as
a liquid rather than as a gas vapor. However, this characteristic
also means that even a small leak of liquid propane can result in
a much larger quantity of propane vapor, which can be especially
dangerous in a confined space.
Similar to any other flammable gas or
flammable liquid, propane is very safe when stored and handled
properly. However, if propane is not properly and safely stored
and handled, it can cause property damage, injuries, or even
death. For this reason, it is important for the safety of the
members of your household that they have a thorough understanding
of the properties and characteristics of propane, and the hazards
and risks associated with its use. Contact your local propane
dealer with questions that you have about propane.
Properties and Characteristics of
In its natural state, propane is
an odorless and colorless gas.
A chemical odorant has been
added to propane to give it a distinct smell.
Propane is stored as a liquid
under pressure in tanks and cylinders.
In most residential
applications, propane is used as a vapor.
If propane comes in contact with
your skin, it can result in frost burns.
Concentrations of propane may
cause flash fires or explosions.
Propane vapor is heavier than
air, and it may collect initially at floor levels or in other
low areas before it begins to dissipate; therefore, to check
for the presence of propane, carefully smell all over a room,
especially in low spots.
Even a slight gas odor may
signal a serious propane gas leak, and you should take
immediate action if you smell gas or suspect a leak.
Consult your propane dealer for
detailed information about using propane safely.
Know the Odor of Propane
In its natural state, propane is
odorless and colorless. A chemical odorant has been added to give
a distinct smell to the propane. The purpose of the odorant is to
help people detect the presence of propane. It is important that
members of the household are able to distinguish the smell of
odorized propane. Under certain conditions, a person may be
prevented from smelling the odorant such as:
Colds, allergies, congestion or
other similar medical conditions.
Use of tobacco, alcohol and/or
Decline in a person's sense of
Olfactory fatigue from being
exposed to the odorant for a period of time.
Odor masking where strong odors
can overpower the smell of the odorant.
Leaking gas passing through soil
may reduce the smell of the odorant.
The odorant in the propane may
not awaken a sleeping person.
Ask your propane dealer to
demonstrate the smell of odorized propane and provide an
explanation about the odorant.
If You Smell a Leak
DO get everyone out of the home
and away from nearby areas.
DO NOT attempt to find the leak.
DO NOT attempt to repair your
appliance or light your pilot light.
DO NOT turn on or off light
switches inside the home.
DO NOT use a telephone inside
the home or in nearby areas.
DO NOT light matches anywhere
inside or near the home.
DO attempt to shut off the
valves at the tank.
DO call both your propane
supplier and the fire department for help from a telephone
away from the home and nearby area.
Propane Gas Detectors
Propane gas detectors are
available as an extra measure to detect leaks.
Gas detectors are only an aid
and are not intended to reduce or eliminate proper safety
procedures when a person smells the odor of gas, even when the
alarm on the gas detector has not been activated.
It is extremely important to
follow manufacturers' instructions when installing a detector.
When selecting a gas detector,
you should choose only detectors that are listed with the
Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
Maintaining Your Propane
The propane system at your home or
business should be installed, maintained and repaired only by
Call a qualified service technician
to light or re-light pilot lights on your appliances.
DO NOT bleed gas lines into
DO NOT tamper with gas controls
on your appliances.
DO NOT use appliances that have
been flooded or have become wet, since the controls can be
damaged or become rusty and malfunction, causing the safety
feature built into the controls to permit a dangerous leak of
DO have wet or flooded
appliances and controls serviced immediately.
DO NOT let your propane system
run out of propane. If it happens, turn off the gas valve on
the tank or cylinder and call your propane dealer.
DO have your propane system and
all appliances periodically checked by a qualified service
technician for proper operation and safety.
Not maintaining all of your
appliances in good repair can result in potentially fatal
carbon monoxide poisoning.
Improperly vented appliances can
cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Symptoms of carbon monoxide
poisoning may include one or more of the following: eye
irritation, headaches, dizziness, sleepiness or excessive
moisture buildup on the inside of windows.
If you identify any of the
above-noted symptoms, ventilate immediately (i.e., open
windows and doors) and call a qualified service technician for
help. Never use camping equipment or portable heaters that are
not designed for recreational vehicles.
Consider installing one or more
carbon monoxide detectors inside of your home or recreational
vehicle, which may sound an alarm to warn you of the presence
of carbon monoxide.
Small Cylinder Safety
Use only DOT-approved cylinders
that are in good condition.
When using a new cylinder for
the first time, insist that your propane dealer purges the
cylinder to remove air and moisture in the tank.
Propane will expand and contract
depending on the temperature.
Cylinders should only be filled
to 80% of capacity. Propane is a flammable gas that has been
Know the odor of the gas. The
odor is for leak detection.
Leaking propane may cause fires
Before lighting propane gas
appliances, check all connections for tightness using a leak
Be sure to read the
manufacturer's instructions before operating gas appliances.
Never use propane from a
cylinder without a regulator.
Do not use matches or lighter to
check for leaks.
Turn off the valves on the
cylinder when not using.
Never store a cylinder indoors
or in an enclosed vehicle.
When transporting a cylinder,
make sure that it is secured and in the upright position, so
that the valves are in the vapor space.
Never smoke or have open flames
near propane cylinders.
When filling cylinders attached
to your vehicle, be sure that all sources of ignition are shut
off; this includes pilot lights and vehicle engines.
Call your propane dealer for
more cylinder safety information.