Propane Safety Tips During Winter Storms

January 13, 2012 Updated Oct 21, 2013 at 4:53 AM EDT

By WKBW News

...

Propane Safety Tips During Winter Storms

January 13, 2012 Updated Oct 21, 2013 at 4:53 AM EDT

Albany, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- With winter finally here, New Yorkers need to be prepared for heavy snowfalls, frigid temperatures, and the potential loss of power.

The New York Propane Gas Association on Friday urged all propane customers to follow a few easy steps as another notoriously harsh Northeastern winter approaches.

“Shoveling a clear pathway to fuel tanks helps ensure that deliveries can be made without interruption,” Barbara Roach, executive director of NYPGA said in a news release. “But special care should be taken when working around fuel supply tanks and propane gas lines to avoid damage that could result in a leak.”

Making way for fuel deliveries is just the beginning. NYPGA reminds everyone, even the most seasoned propane users, to review propane hazards and safety tips regularly.

When handled properly, propane is a safe, clean, versatile and highly efficient fuel that can be used for many consumer products. If your home or business uses propane to generate heat or run appliances, there are a few simple steps you can take to keep your family safe and avoid potential dangers.

Be Prepared:

Alert Snow Plow Contractors. Make sure the company hired to perform snow removal be advised of the presence and location of both above ground and underground tanks. Accidental contact of snow removal equipment with tanks could cause a serious safety hazard

Mark the location of your tank with a flag, pole, or stake. The marker should be higher than the average snow cover depth in your area. Markers will help you to avoid plowing or shoveling rooftop snow on top of your tank. In the event that your tank becomes covered with snow, use a broom to clear it.

Make sure you have an adequate propane supply. During and after a winter storm, roads may be inaccessible for delivery. It is recommended that you establish a regular delivery schedule with your propane retailer. Your dealer will be able to explain your options in one simple phone call.

Make sure your heating system and appliances are running efficiently. Have a qualified service technician annually inspect and service your appliances and propane system. This will ensure that your appliances are running as efficiently as possible, conserving fuel and saving dollars.

Recovery:

After a winter storm passes and it is safe to do so, check the entire area for downed power lines, damaged gas lines, or damage to your propane tank. Immediately call your local utility company or propane retailer if you suspect that any of these hazards exist. Do not attempt repairs yourself.

Check your chimneys, flue pipes, vent connectors, and propane tank for damage, blockage, or debris caused by snow and ice. Use a broom rather than a shovel, and clear these areas frequently. This will help reduce the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning due to blocked or damaged chimneys, flues, and vents. Should you spot potential damage, do not attempt to repair it yourself. Call your propane dealer for assistance.

Never use a propane appliance for purposes it was not intended. While using your oven to supplement heat or bringing your grill inside to cook during a power outage may be tempting, it is far from safe. Proper ventilation is necessary for these appliances safe operation, as the carbon monoxide fumes emitted from them can be lethal. Only use appliances indoors that are designed and approved for indoor use, and be sure to follow the directions closely. Never store, place, or use a propane cylinder indoors or in enclosed areas.

Use extreme caution when operating portable generators. Never use a portable generator (gasoline, diesel, or propane) indoors or in enclosed areas. This can result in carbon monoxide poisoning or death.

Take immediate action if you smell gas inside or outside of your home or business. Follow these simple instructions:

1. No flames or sparks! Immediately put out all smoking materials and other open flames. Do not operate or turn on or off lights, appliances, telephones or cell phones.

2. Leave the area immediately! Get everyone out of the building or area where you suspect gas is leaking.

3. Shut off the gas. Turn off the main gas supply valve on your propane tank, if it is safe to do so. To close the valve, turn it to the right (clockwise).

4. Report the leak. From a neighbor’s home or other building away from the gas leak, call your propane retailer right away. If you can’t reach your propane retailer, call 911 or your local fire department.

5. Do not return to the building or area until your propane retailer, emergency responder, or qualified service technician determines that it is safe to do so.

6. Get your system checked. Before you attempt to use any of your propane appliances, your propane retailer or a qualified service technician must check your entire system to ensure that it is leak-free.