Propane is a cleaner, more environmentally-friendly alternative to conventional petroleum-based fuels and is not harmful to soil or groundwater. It produces minimal emissions and can be used to heat homes and water, cook indoors and out, dry clothes, and heat pools. When used in systems that are properly maintained and operated, propane is perfectly safe. But if treated without proper care or attention, it can be dangerous.
The propane inside a container is in liquid form with a vapour space above the liquid. It turns to gas when it is released from the container. Liquid propane can cause severe frostbite if it comes in contact with your skin or eyes. Keep your head away from the valves on your tank or cylinder – sudden releases of propane liquid/vapour from the pressure relief valve can potentially result in serious injury. Propane can be ignited by many sources including pilot lights, open flames, smoking materials, electric sparks, and even static electricity. The sections below contain a list of safety precautions, tips, and information outlined by the Canadian Propane Association. Please consult the following sections below for more details, or visit the safety section of the CPA website.
Safety tips when using a propane BBQ:
- Always check cylinder connections for leaks before using your barbeque for the first time after or with a new cylinder.
- Be sure to always use barbeques outdoors in well-ventilated areas, clear from any windows and doors.
- If you haven’t used your barbeque in a few months, make sure to inspect and clean it before usage.
- Replace any worn or rusted fittings or burners, as well as O rings.
- Ensure that cylinders are stored upright and off the ground in a secure, well-ventilated location.
- Keep the propane cylinder away from any sources of heat or ignition when in storage or transport.
- Before using or storing a barbeque on a balcony, check to make sure you have the proper authorization (if in a condominium or apartment complex).
- Never modify or repair a barbeque or cylinder/tank parts, including connectors, regulators, valves, burners, and controls.
- Keep the area clear from any branches, leaves, or other combustible materials.
- If you suspect a leak, smell an odour (propane gas is odourized to smell like rotten eggs), or hear a high-pitched whistling noise, turn off the cylinder valve immediately.
- When lighting the barbeque, ensure that the lid is open to prevent gas from pooling underneath the lid.
- After you are done using the barbeque, turn the valve on the cylinder off first, to ensure there is no gas remaining in the line.
- Always make sure the grill is off and completely cooled before covering.
- When not in use, always keep the cylinder valve closed and the burner controls off.
Around the Home
Carbon Monoxide (Co)
- Propane appliances can present the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning if not installed, operated, vented or maintained properly.
- Propane appliances burn with a blue flame when operating correctly. Yellow flames or soot can indicate incomplete combustion, which may produce carbon monoxide.
- Always make sure there is proper ventilation when using any propane device or appliance.
- More information on CO and propane can be found on the CPA’s CO Fact Sheet.
- Make sure you know the location of your meter or tank.
- Ensure that you know how to shut off the propane supply if necessary.
- If you are served by a propane meter or tank, you should note of the following:
- Keep the area clear for emergency responses.
- Do not enclose your meter or tank.
- Never tie/attach pets or objects to the tank, meter, or pipes.
- Rusty, unpainted, or dark tanks can be dangerous – they reflect less sunlight and absorb more heat, causing increased pressure inside of the tank.
- If you have underground tubing or piping for propane at your location and plan to do any digging or landscaping, consult your local service technician first.
- Ensure propane appliances are only used for their designed purposes.
- Make certain that appliances are well maintained and used in well-ventilated spaces.
- Always refer to the included manuals for the proper maintenance and operating instructions.
Basic Cylinder Facts
- It is illegal to have a cylinder filled beyond 80% of its capacity.
- All cylinders must have a decal identifying contents as a flammable gas.
- Cylinders may only be filled by properly licensed and qualified technicians.
- All cylinders must be inspected and requalified after 10-years. All cylinders should have a date stamped on the collar indicating when it was last qualified.
- If you have a cylinder that is beyond its 10-year qualification date, you can bring it to our Picton location to have it properly requalified or replaced.
- Even if a cylinder is under it’s 10-year qualification date, it still may need to be replaced if in poor condition – check your tank for leaks and signs of rust and wear.
Checking for Leaks
- Propane contains an odourant called ethyl mercaptan. This makes propane smell like rotten eggs – if you smell this, you should check for leaks.
- When checking for leaks on the tank, ensure that the valve on the cylinder is completely off and that the cylinder is away from any sources of heat or ignition.
- Take a mixture of soap and water and apply it to suspect areas on the tank. If the mixture begins to bubble, that indicates the presence of a leak.
- Ensure that the valve is always closed during transport, even if the cylinder is empty.
- Never place or leave a propane cylinder in a closed vehicle. If heat builds up inside the vehicle, it could cause an explosion.
- Always ensure that the cylinder is upright and secured during transport.
- Preferably, cylinders should be transported on the rear floor of the vehicle with a window open for ventilation. If inside the trunk of a vehicle, the cylinder should be secured, upright and the trunk left partially open for ventilation.
Usage and Storage
- Keep cylinders outside, in areas that are well-ventilated and away from heat and ignition sources.
- Keep cylinders upright, off the ground on a firm, fire-proof surface.
- Only use on appliances approved to work with propane.
- If not in use, close valve completely (even if empty) and plug or cap the valve opening.