Propane safety during winter weather: Steps to keep you and your family safeby jmaloni
With winter weather on its way, New Yorkers need to be prepared for heavy snowfalls and frigid temperatures. The New York Propane Gas Association reminds everyone, even the most seasoned propane users, to review propane hazards and safety tips regularly.
For homeowners and businesses relying on propane gas to heat their homes or water, cook their food, or fuel other equipment and structures, the New York Propane Gas Association offers an interactive online safety module for winter preparedness at http://www.propanesafety.com/winterstorm-preparedness.
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:
•Mark the location of your tank with a flag, pole or stake. The marker should be higher than the average snow cover depth for your location. It will help you avoid plowing or shoveling rooftop snow on top of your tank. Should your tank become 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.
•Throughout the winter, 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.
•Never use a stove for space heating and never use outdoor propane appliances indoors or in enclosed areas, particularly in the event of a power outage. Proper ventilation is necessary for their safe operation; and carbon monoxide fumes emitted can be lethal. Only use appliances indoors that are designed and approved for indoor use. Never store, place or use a propane cylinder indoors or in enclosed areas.
•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.
•If there is a winter storm, check the entire area for downed power lines, damaged gas lines, or damage to your propane tank when it is safe to do so. Immediately call your local utility company or propane retailer if any of these hazards exist. Do not attempt repairs yourself.
•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.
•Check caulking around doors and windows.
•Get storm windows in place and secure.
•Check insulation in the attic and basements.
•Seal air leaks around openings where plumbing or electrical wiring goes through walls, floors and ceilings.
Take immediate action if you smell gas inside or outside of your home or business. Follow these simple instructions:
•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.
•Leave the area immediately. Get everyone out of the building or area where you suspect gas is leaking.
•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).
•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.
•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.
•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.
About the New York Propane Gas Association (NYPGA)
NYPGA is a member-focused trade organization providing services that communicate, educate and promote the propane industry in New York. The association was formed in 1948 to offer opportunities for training and networking with peers, and to aid with legislative issues that contribute to operating a safe and successful industry.