10 Things You Can Do to Keep Your Family Safe
1. Maintain and Adequate Supply of Propane in Your Tank
A severe winter storm can hinder additional propane deliveries
2. Get in Touch with Your Propane Provider Immediately if you Run Out of Propane
A propane provider or qualified service technician must check your system for leaks before turning the gas back on.
3. Stay in Regular Contact with Your Propane Provider
Doing so gives you both enough time to arrange a refill long before you run out of propane.
4. Keep the Path to Your Propane Tank Clear
A clear path helps the delivery drivers get to you tank easily, fill it quickly, and move on to the next customer.
5. Clear Snow and Ice from Around Your Propane Tank
This includes regulators, regulator vents, piping, tubing, and valves. Use a broom instead of a shovel to prevent damage to your propane system components.
6. Never Use a Stove or Bring Your Gas Grill Indoors for Space Heating, Even During a Power Outage
Only use appliances indoors that are designed and approved for that purpose. Never store, place, or use a propane cylinder indoors or in enclosed areas. Never use outdoor propane-powered appliances indoors or in enclosed areas. Without proper ventilation, deadly carbon monoxide (CO) fumes produced can built up.
7.Use Energy Wisely
Winter storms and the resulting inaccessible roads may make propane deliveries impossible for several days. Use energy conservatively by setting your programmable thermostat to as low as is comfortable—possibly a few degrees cooler at night and when nobody is home. Close off any rooms that don’t need to be heated.
8. Allow Your Appliance to Vent Properly
If it is safe to do so, clear snow and ice away from outdoor vents, chimneys, and flues to prevent blocking any ventilation.
9. If You Smell Gas, Take the Right Steps
Immediately put out all smoking materials and other open flames. Do not operate lights, appliances, telephones, or cellphones. Get everyone away from the home or area where you suspect gas is leaking. If safe to do so, close or shut off the main gas supply valve by turning it to the right (clockwise). Call your propane provider immediately from a safe place to report the leak. If you cannot reach your propane provider, call 911. Do no return to the area until a propane provider, emergency responder, or qualified service technician gives the OK.
10. Operate Portable Generators with Caution
Never use a portable generator (gasoline, diesel, or propane) indoors or in enclosed areas. Doing so can result in carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning or death.
HOW TO PREPARE YOUR PROPANE HOME FOR A WINTER STORM
Winter storms can significantly impact an area, causing high winds, limited visibility, and leaving behind an abundance of snow. Homeowners in the path of a winter storm this season will be well-served to take a few proactive steps to help safeguard their homes.
- Get to know your propane system if you are not familiar with it. Identify core components— tank, regulators, meter, piping, and supply valves — as well as any appliance vents. Be sure you know where your gas supply valve is located, in case you need to close it in the event of an emergency.
- Mark your tank and regulator. Mark your tank with a brightly colored stake or flag taller than the maximum anticipated snow depth. This is important to enable emergency and propane service personnel to locate it at all times.
- Have an adequate supply of propane in your tank. In high snowfall areas, roads leading to your home might not be accessible for delivery, particularly after a snowstorm. If there’s still time, contact your propane supplier and fill up your tank.
- Talk to your contractors. If you use a snow removal service, make sure that the service knows the location of all propane equipment on the property.
- Keep snow and ice from accumulating on propane equipment. Gently brush away snow or ice that has accumulated around the tank, meter, regulator, and any other piping using a broom or by hand.
- Be alert to snow buildup on rooftops and other areas. Frequently check where snow or ice collect on your roof, structure, or nearby trees and clear it if you believe it might fall on any part of your propane system.
- Keep vents clear. Appliance vents and chimney flues need to be clear of snow or ice, too. Some homes may have “direct” vents, which are close to the ground.
- Clear driveways and pathways to propane tanks. When clearing snow, remember that a propane delivery truck needs at least a 10-foot-wide path to be able to deliver fuel to your home. Also, keep the tank area and a path to the tank free of snow.
Propane Safety and Severe Weather
Before, during, and after a storm, there are a few key things to consider to keep your family and your home as safe as possible.
CREATE AN EMERGENCY PLAN
INSTALL A UL-LISTED GAS DETECTOR
PLAN FOR COMMUNICATIONS
INSPECT DAMAGE CAUTIOUSLY
IF YOU SENSE DANGER, CALL THE EXPERTS
What happens to propane in a flood?
While a home’s propane storage system is itself very robust, the risk during a flood comes from the fact that propane tanks can float in water. If they were to become dislodged, they would pull on the piping system, which could cause a failure. That’s why the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code NFPA 58 requires tanks and containers in flood-prone areas to be strapped down or secured so they’re prevented from floating.
Of course, flooding can cause damage in plenty of other ways, so you should check for damage to your propane system alongside the rest of your home after a flood. Floating debris could hit piping or a meter, and if the propane regulator becomes submerged, it can malfunction. Likewise, appliances that are underwater could get electrical shorts or corrosion damage. If you see any damage to your propane system, you should contact your propane supplier and have it checked out. And if for any reason you smell propane, you need to evacuate the area and call 911.
Builders using temporary tanks should also be aware if heavy rain is expected. Small cylinders used on construction sites can also float, so you may want to move them to higher ground or make sure they’re tied down.
What happens to propane during heavy snow?
Nothing beats the comfort of propane heat during a frigid winter storm, but there are several considerations for builders and homeowners during heavy snow events. The primary concerns are snow sliding off a roof or awning and damaging gas piping or high snow packing in around a regulator or relief valve and preventing them from working correctly.
Consider those snow scenarios when working with a propane provider on the design of your systems. For the second-stage regulator, you may want to place it on the gable end instead of the long end of the house, since snow is less likely to fall off the gable end.
Builders and homeowners should also be sure to mark the tank so they and their propane provider are able to easily find it if there have been several feet of snow. That’s especially true if it’s near a driveway, to make sure a plow doesn’t hit the tank or damage the system. Homeowners should try to keep at least the top of their tank clear of snow and ice to prevent safety issues.
Propane Safety and Power Outages
Power outages can occur during any season and can range from being a simple inconvenience to, in some cases, a life-threatening situation. Almost any type of weather-related event can cause a power outage, ranging from snow and ice storms to thunderstorms, hurricanes, and extreme heat.