Know what propane
smells like?

Click the nose -
we'll mail you a
scratch & sniff

The safety of your family is the
most important thing in the world!

Propane is a safe, reliable fuel. Like many other fuels, however, it is flammable. That means it can be dangerous if not handled properly.Remember, in order to protect you, your family and others, you must be aware of (and respect) the normal, everyday hazards around you. Propane is no exception.

The following information will increase your understanding of how to use your propane system safely. Read it now, and make certain your family and friends are familiar with this accident prevention information. 

General Safety Precautions
Here are some general safety procedures to follow when using your propane appliance(s):
  1. Be alert for the odor of propane when around a gas appliance or container.
  2. If you smell gas, do not try to light the appliance. Call your propane supplier.
  3. Read and follow the operating and lighting instructions and warning labels provided by the appliance manufacturer.
  4. The pilot has a safety device. If you have trouble keeping it lit, this device is warning you about a problem. Call a service technician for assistance.
  5. Never force any appliance control. If you cannot operate the knobs, switches or buttons by hand, call your supplier. Never tamper with the controls.

Return to top

Additional Safety Tips
  1. Keep combustibles, such as curtains, paper, cleaning fluids, etc., away from any energy source, including gas and electric appliances where they may cause a fire.
  2. Have a fire extinguisher readily available. Be sure it is charged and that you and your family know how to use it.
  3. Gas appliances, like humans, need oxygen (air) to function properly.
  4. If you smell gas near your tank or cylinder, call your propane supplier.
  5. Use only listed propane appliances. Look for the seal from a nationally recognized independent testing laboratory.
  6. Use gas grills outdoors only. Use or store propane cylinders outdoors only.

Return to top

A Pressure Situation
The propane in your gas system is stored under pressure. While it's stored, there's no problem. But, in the unlikely event your system develops a leak (which can be caused by physical damage or deterioration), it can become dangerous.

Propane burns at an even rate when properly mixed with air, as in your stove or furnace. But, if a leak occurs, a flame or spark could ignite it. If that happens, it could cause a fire - or even an explosion. Although such accidents are rare, we want you to be aware of this possibility.

Return to top

Know Your Propane System
Your propane system has four basic parts:
  1. A tank or cylinder equipped with a main shutoff valve;
  2. One or more regulators designed to reduce pressure between the container and your appliance(s);
  3. Gas piping, to carry the propane to your appliance(s); and
  4. Gas appliance(s)

The tank or cylinder is where the propane is stored. It is equipped with a shutoff valve, which turns the gas "on" or "off'. The regulator controls the gas pressure, while the gas piping carries the gas to your appliance(s).

It is important for you to know the location of the main shutoff valve on the tank or cylinder. Remember its location and become familiar with how to shut it off in an emergency situation.

Return to top

How Do You Tell if There Is a Leak?
  1. By smell. A disagreeable odor is added to the propane so that you will be able to detect the smell easily in case a leak develops or an unlit burner is left turned on.
  2. By electronic gas alarm. If used, the gas alarm supplements a person's ability to detect a gas leak and sounds a warning when it detects the presence of unburned propane.

You should be aware that some persons have different thresholds of smell and cannot detect the odor of propane as readily as others. Also, sometimes people with a normal sense of smell temporarily lose their ability to detect odors because of illness, use of tobacco, alcohol or drugs. Also, cooking odors, tobacco smoke and aerosol and odor removing sprays can cover up other odors. In certain instances, the odorant in the propane may diminish or weaken, making it difficult for a person with a normal sense of smell to detect a gas leak. Propane Vapor is heavier than air. Leaking propane may tend to settle near the floor while dissipating into the air.

Return to top

Steps to Take if You Smell Gas or the Alarm Sounds
Never assume that the odor of gas is a sign that your tank is running low. If you smell gas in the house or if the gas alarm signals the presence of gas, IMMEDIATELY follow these suggestions:

DO...

  1. Extinguish all smoking materials and any other open flames or sources of ignition.
  2. Get everyone outside and away from the building.
  3. Shut off the gas supply at the tank.
  4. Call your propane supplier from a neighbor's phone. If you cannot reach your propane supplier, call the fire department.
  5. Stay outside and leave the gas off until the leak has been found and fixed.

DO NOT...

  1. Turn light switches, appliances or thermostats on or off, and do not use the telephone. A spark from one of these could ignite the gas.
  2. Light or try to re-light any appliances. Leave this job to your propane supplier.
  3. Re-enter the building, until the problem has been corrected.

Return to top

Inspection of Your Appliance(s)
Routinely (at least annually) call a service technician to examine your gas appliance(s) for any conditions that may render the appliance(s) inefficient or unsafe for use, similar to how you have your automobile checked periodically. All appliances, including gas, should be regularly inspected and maintained, just as electrical appliances, to eliminate possible hazards from short circuits and other malfunctions that could create hazards.

A routine inspection should consist of (but not be limited to) detecting any unsafe or potentially hazardous situations, such as the following:

  1. Substandard and/or lack of venting systems on appliances requiring them.
  2. Sootiness and/or the accumulation of soot around interior and exterior appliance components such as around pilot lights, appliance burners, range tops, oven components, etc. This indicates that the appliance is not operating properly or efficiently.
  3. Leakage of water around or through water heater valves, fittings or jackets. CAUTION: This should alert you to the fact that the water heating device has some internal damage.
  4. Missing or damaged control components such as dials, knobs, screws, etc.
  5. Controls that have been tampered with (evidenced by altered design function, missing or substituted components, etc.).
  6. Controls that have been under water or subjected to flooding. Such controls may not function properly and must be replaced.
  7. Unstable appliance bases and/or platforms. Warped, rotting or substandard bases and/or platforms may collapse creating a potentially hazardous condition.
  8. Problems in gas line connectors such as kinks, corrosion, deterioration, etc. Any abnormality should be immediately reported to your propane supplier since failure to correct these problems could create a hazardous situation.
  9. Unsatisfactory operation of gas valves and safety controls.
  10. Gas leakage in the appliances or piping system.
  11. Improper appliance and gas system installation.

Return to top

A Word About Vented Appliances
Some appliances are required to have vents in order to exhaust harmful combustion gases outside.

Poisonous carbon monoxide can be produced from improperly installed or operating appliances.

Frequent headaches and nausea may be indicators that this colorless, odorless gas is causing carbon monoxide poisoning. To minimize the chance of this happening, follow these practices:

  1. Vented appliances must be installed by a qualified appliance installer.
  2. Do not operate vented appliances until they have been vented properly.
  3. After appliance installation and before each heating season, the vents and flues should be checked for blockages and corrosion, either by a qualified installer or a qualified service technician.
  4. If you buy a used appliance, have it inspected and installed by a qualified propane appliance installer.

When properly installed and maintained, the venting system will also keep walls and other surfaces from overheating and possibly catching fire. Not all gas appliances are suitable for operating on propane. If you buy a used appliance, be sure it is listed for propane and have it installed by a qualified technician.

Return to top

If You Run Out Of Gas
Letting your propane container run empty creates additional hazards. If you run out of gas and lose pressure in the system, a potentially hazardous condition can result. If you do run out of gas, follow these steps:
  1. Turn off all control valves on all gas appliances.
  2. Turn off the shutoff valve on the propane container(s).
  3. Call your propane supplier to arrange for delivery, and advise them you are out of gas.
  4. Don’t turn the gas back on! Let the propane supplier do it. When you schedule your fill, be sure it is for a time when you will be at home, so the propane supplier can re-light and check your appliances and system to assure that they are operating properly and are leak free.
  5. Immediately after your tank is refilled, have a service technician check to see that all safety controls are functioning properly and the piping system is leak free.

Return to top

If You Move or Change Gas Appliances
ALWAYS CALL YOUR PROPANE SUPPLIER WHEN YOU NEED A GAS APPLIANCE CONNECTED OR DISCONNECTED. It is for your safety that the gas system remain in a safe condition at all times. Should the gas system develop a leak (or if a gas line or shut off valve remains unplugged), a fire, explosion or serious injury could result.

Properly operated and maintained, your propane system and appliance(s) can provide you many years of clean-burning, safe, efficient service. If you have any questions once you have read this information, or do not understand any part of it, call your supplier.

Return to top

OPD valves for cylinders

Do I need an OPD Valve for my cylinder?

THE REGULATION: Beginning October 1st, 1998, all newly manufactured small propane cylinders (capacity of 4 pounds up to 40 pounds) will be equipped with an overfilling prevention device (OPD). By April 1st, 2002 all cylinders meeting the above requirements must have an OPD valve or they cannot be refilled.

WHAT IS AN OPD?

An OPD is a safety feature that helps prevent small propane cylinders from being overfilled.

WHY SHOULD I 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 the 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: (1) The pressure relief valve may open, discharging propane from the cylinder. (2) 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.

CAN I PUT A NEW OPD VALVE IN MY OLD CYLINDER?

Yes, an OPD valve can be installed in your old cylinder. The cost is $22.50, plus sales tax. This included the OPD valve, labor to install it and re-certification of you cylinder. Another option is to replace your cylinder with a new one that has the OPD already installed. Prices for new cylinders vary with their size.

HOW CAN I TELL IF MY CYLINDER HAS AN OPD VALVE?

There are at least two (2) ways to identify OPD equipped cylinders. New cylinder wrappers and/or warning labels will include this information. Second, most cylinders with OPD’s have special triangular hand wheels with the letters "OPD". However, some OPD’s were produced before the letters on the valve handles and valve bodies were required so check the label or ask one of our qualified propane refillers to identify and inspect your cylinder for you.

Return to top

Hot Water Heater Safety Tips
Household chores such as doing laundry and running the dishwasher put a heavy load on your water heater. In fact, your water heater is the second largest energy user and contributor to your household utility bill. This makes it particularly important to choose a water heater wisely and provide the proper maintenance. The National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) offers you these energy-saving tips on purchasing a water heater and making it last longer:

Choosing Your Water Heater

There are several factors to consider when buying a water heater:

  1. Choose between gas and electric. Propane gas water heaters heat more than twice as much water in an hour as a comparable electric model.
  2. Carefully check the Energy Guide Label. This bright yellow sticker tells you how much it will cost to run the water heater for one year. More important, the sticker compares the efficiency of the unit with similar models, giving you objective information on the unit's performance.
  3. Double-check the warranty. Water heaters typically come with a five- or ten-year warranty. Usually, the only difference between the two warranties is that in the model with the extended warranty there is a second sacrificial anode rod inside the tank, which works to protect the tank from rusting by "sacrificing" itself through corrosion. Often, a second anode can be added for a fraction of the cost of the extended warranty.
  4. Ask the salesperson if the dip tube is curved. The dip tube is a cold water inlet that delivers water to the bottom of the tank. When teamed with a full-port drain valve, the curved dip tube releases water in a swirling motion. This flushes out sediment more effectively and helps extend the tank's life.

Energy-Saving Tips for Your Water Heater

Here are some easy and practical ideas that homeowners can implement to help cut their energy bills:

  • You can save more than 10 percent on your water-heating bill by turning down your water heater from the standard 140 degrees to 130 degrees.
  • To extend your water heater's life and increase energy efficiency, drain it every six months to remove lime deposits and sediment.
  • Install flow-restricting showerheads. You can reduce hot water usage by up to 50 percent without affecting shower pressure.
  • Repair leaky faucets. A leak that fills a coffee cup in 10 minutes wastes 3,200 gallons of water a year.
  • Finally, schedule a periodic tune-up to ensure that your water heater is working properly. If you have a propane water heater, ask your local propane supplier to conduct a Gas Appliance System Check ( GAS Check®). During your GAS Check®, a certified service technician will examine your water heater and advise you on methods for safe, efficient operation.

By following these simple tips, your heater will run at maximum efficiency, saving you money on the hot water used by your family.

Return to top

Camping equipment Safety tips

Overall Tips

Make sure that your shelter or camper is adequately ventilated at all times. Never leave the heater, stove or lamp burning overnight or unattended.

Check your propane-fueled camping appliances periodically to ensure they are functioning properly. Carefully inspect them at home before taking them on a trip. Never use a flame to check for leaks; instead, apply soapy water on each of the connections, turn on the gas and watch for telltale bubbles. Also, be alert for the "rotten egg" odor of propane, which may also indicate a leak.

If you smell the familiar "rotten egg" odor of propane, follow these steps: (1) do not light matches or use any electrical equipment; (2) exit your camper or tent immediately; (3) if there is an outside tank, turn off the gas valve; (4) call your propane supplier or fire department from a phone near your campsite.

Use only approved appliances and look for a label from a testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories, before buying. Always thoroughly read and follow the manufacturer's directions. Never use a worn or damaged appliance.

Do not store propane cylinders inside hot vehicles or where temperatures might rise above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Cylinders should be stored, moved and used in an upright position unless otherwise indicated on the cylinder. Both cylinders and appliances should be kept out of the reach of children at all times.

Camp Stove Tips

Never use your propane stove in an enclosed area. It should be located in an open, well-ventilated area away from shrubs or dry wood. If such an area is not available, clear one by hand. Keep the stove away from your tent, sleeping bags and camper.

Secure the stove on a level, nonflammable surface. Use a stove base when cooking on snow or uneven ground. Ceramic tile or old license plates make great bases. Visible markers should be put up to alert fellow campers to stoves that are small and low to the ground.

Before connecting the stove to the propane cylinder, make sure that the stove valve is set at "OFF." Inspect and check connections carefully for dirt or damage prior to lighting. To clean, use a damp, warm, soapy paper towel or sponge. Use the "bubble test" mentioned earlier to check the connections. Never immerse the stove in water.

If ignition does not occur immediately, turn off the gas, wait for it to clear and try again. When lighting, make sure you keep your hands and fingers to the side of the burner and clothing away from the flame.

Never leave a hot stove unattended, and always turn it off before moving it. Disconnect the fuel cylinder when repacking, storing or transporting the camp stove. Cover and store the stove in a clean, dry place.

Lamp and Lantern Tips

Keep dirt and foreign particles out of the lantern valve, and blow the valve clean before connecting the cylinder to the lantern. Check the cylinder, valve connections and mantle (the part shielding the flame) before each use.

Never operate without a mantle or with a damaged mantle that has visible holes or cracks. Avoid mantle "over burn," which can shorten the life of the mantle and damage your lantern.

Leave plenty of clearance between your propane lamp or lantern and any combustible materials. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for space clearance. Select a level surface on which to place the lamp or lantern.

A lantern is not a space heater. Use it only as a light source. Always detach the propane cylinder before transporting a lantern.

Camp Heater Tips

Only use propane gas heaters that have been tested and labeled by a recognized agency. Leave clearance around and above the unit. The recommended distances are six to twelve inches on the sides, one to four feet above, and at least three feet in front. Your propane heater should only be used for heating, not for cooking food or drying clothes.

Select the right type of heater for your needs. A direct-vent heater uses outside air to support combustion in its sealed combustion chamber and vents exhaust back outside. Use this type of heater in your tent or RV and keep the outside vent free of debris. A vent-free heater uses inside air to support combustion and vents directly into the room. Vent-free heaters should only be used in accordance with the manufacturer's installation instructions.

Return to top

For additional safety information, see the NPGA website