Propane Safety

Download the CPA Carbon Monoxide Safety Guidelines here
Download the CPA Propane Safety Brochure

Propane is a safe, economical, non-toxic, and environmentally-friendly fuel that is not harmful to soil or ground water. It produces minimal emissions and can be used to heat homes and water, cook indoors and out, dry clothes, and heat pools and spas. If 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.

At Home

Propane Meters / Tanks

  • If you are served by a propane meter or tank, you should note of the following:
  • Make sure you know the location of your meter or tank.
  • Keep the area clear for emergency responses.
  • Ensure that you know how to shut off the propane supply if necessary.
  • Do not enclose your meter or tank.
  • Never tie or attached 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.

Appliances

  • For propane appliances, make sure you only used them for their designed purpose.
  • Ensure that appliances are well maintained and used in well-ventilated spaces.
  • Always refer to the manuals included for the proper maintenance and operating instructions.

Carbon Monoxide

  • Propane appliances can present the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning if used or installed improperly.
  • 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.

Barbeques

Propane Barbeque Safety

  • Here are some safety tips to use when dealing with a propane BBQ:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.

Cylinders

Basic Cylinder Facts

  • All cylinders must have a decal identifying contents as a flammable gas.
  • Cylinders may only be filled by properly licensed and qualified technicians.
  • It is illegal to have a cylinder filled beyond 80% of its capacity.
  • All cylinders must be inspected and re-qualified/replaced after 10 years. All cylinders should have a date stamp on the collar indicating the date at which it was last qualified.
  • If you have a cylinder that is beyond its 10 year qualification date, you can bring it to your local Dowler-Karn branch to have it properly requalified or replaced.
  • Even if a cylinder is under 10 years from it’s qualification date, it may still need to replaced if in poor condition – check your tank for leaks and signs of rust and wear.

Checking for Leaks

  • Propane is odourized to smell like rotten eggs – if you smell this then 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 to suspect areas on the tank – if the mixture begins to bubble, that indicates the presence of a leak.

Transporting Cylinders

  • Always ensure that the cylinder is upright and secured during transport.
  • Ensure that the valve is always closed during transport, even if empty.
  • Never put or leave a propane cylinder in a closed vehicle. If heats builds up inside the vehicle, it could cause an explosion.
  • Ideally, 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 flame.
  • Keep cylinders upright on firm footing, off the ground on top of a surface that will not burn.
  • Use only for appliances approved to work with propane.
  • If not in use, close valve completely (even if empty) and plug or cap the valve opening.

Propane Vehicles

Propane Vehicles Safety

  • Propane is one of the safest fuels available for vehicles and there are over 50,000 vehicles in Canada that run on propane.
  • Here are a few safety related facts about vehicles that run on propane:
  • Propane tanks are 20 times more puncture-resisitance than common gasoline tanks.
  • Propane is odourized so that leaks are easy to detect.
  • Propane is lead-free with extremely low levels of sulfur.
  • Propane has a much lower flammability range than other alternative fuels. Is there is too much propane or too much oxygen, then the propane will not burn.
  • Some examples of services that use propane vehicles include Queen Elizabeth II’s royal limousine, the London Ontario Police Force, and Yellow-Checker-Star Las Vegas Taxis.

RVs and Campers If using an RV or camper with propane systems, it is important to be familiar with the operating and maintenance instructions as provided by the manufacturer. In particular, make sure you are familiar with how to detect and check for leaks, how to get inspections, and how to handle cylinders. It is recommended (and in some provinces, the law) to keep all appliciances and pilot lights be off and all cylinder valves closed during travel.

Further information can be found at propane.ca/safety-regulation/