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7 propane safety tips

Published on April 26, 2022


For many of us, the scent of propane sparks memories of one of the joys of summer. Although this combustible material is widely used, improper use or storage, or careless transportation, can result in carbon monoxide poisoning, injury or property damage. The L’Unique General Insurance team has compiled a list of things you should do to reduce the risk of accidents and home insurance claims.

1. Choose your propane appliances carefully

Purchase only propane appliances that bear the seal of a competent agency, such as CSA, ULC, CGA, RBQ, cOTL, cETL, cUL or WH.

2. Maintain them adequately

  • Read the manufacturer’s instructions, and follow them to the letter!
  • At the start of each season, clean and inspect your propane appliances.
    • Are the cylinders firmly in place?
    • - Are there any leaks? To check, spray the cylinders, hoses and connections with soapy water. Then, open the valve. If you see bubbles, that means there’s a leak, and the appliance needs to be repaired prior to use. Replace the defective parts, and ensure that there’s no more leakage before using it again.

3. Always use propane carefully

Bear the following principles in mind when installing and using a propane appliance:

  • Install the appliance outside, where there is good air flow. If you have it inside a gazebo that has side panels, open two or more of the panels, while grilling, to ensure adequate ventilation.
  • Open the lid of the BBQ before lighting it to eliminate the risk of an explosion.
  • Always keep a functional fire extinguisher near the appliance.
  • Close the cylinder valve every time after use.
  • Place propane barbecues at least one meter (three feet) away from other structures or objects.
  • Always be watchful when operating propane appliances.
  • Have the cylinders filled by certified personnel.

4. Transport cylinders safely

The rules below must be followed when transporting propane cylinders:

  • Use straps or a special holder to secure them firmly in place, in an upright position.
  • Check to see if the valve is properly closed, and seal it with a plug.
  • Ensure adequate ventilation. Open a window when the cylinder is being transported in the interior of the vehicle. If it is being transported in the trunk of a sedan, open a window and fold down the back seats and open a window, or leave the trunk a crack open.

5. Store the cylinders safely

  • Place them outside, on a flat surface, away from children, the sun and any other heat source.
  • Store them in an upright position.
  • Quickly dispose of any cylinder that is more than 10 years old or that is defective, by dropping it off at a specialized depot. Never leave it out on the curb on garbage day!

6. Know how to detect and fix leaks

A scent similar to rotten eggs, which has been added to propane, allows leaks to be detected more easily. In the event of a leak, you’ll need to respond quickly, because of the high risk of fire or explosion.

  • The area must be evacuated and ventilated at once.
  • The propane supply must be cut off.
  • The appliance must not be used until it has been examined by an expert.

7. Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and know the signs

Did you know that an odorless, toxic gas is produced when there is incomplete propane combustion? The gas is carbon monoxide (CO), and it can be lethal. Here’s how to avoid and detect it:

  • Install a carbon monoxide detector in any area that uses propane heat.
  • Maintain adequate ventilation when operating a propane appliance.
  • Remember the symptoms of CO poisoning: sudden fatigue, headache, burning eyes, nausea and dizziness.
  • If the CO alarm sounds, or if you think someone might be suffering from CO poisoning:
    • Have the area evacuated, and leave the door open for ventilation
    • Call 911
    • If someone is presenting symptoms of poisoning, call the Quebec poison control centre at 1 800 463-5060
    • Don’t let anyone go back inside until the fire department has given the all-clear
    • Stop using propane until the verifications and full repairs have been carried out by a professional.

Your insurance broker is there to help you prevent losses. Feel free to contact him or her!