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Dec. 22, 2004

LEPC Issues Propane Safety Tips for Winter Weather

Many families cook and heat their homes with propane gas, staying warm and comfortable during winter storms and electrical power outages. However, propane equipment does require proper care, especially in areas that receive heavy snowfall. The Oswego County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) shares these important safety tips from the National Propane Gas Association.

  • First and most importantly, if you smell a leak, immediately evacuate everyone from the building. Call 911 from a nearby phone. Do not remain in the building, use the telephone or light switches, or try to determine the source of the leak yourself.
  • Make sure you have a protective cap or "dome" covering the regulator, relief valves, and fill valves on your propane tank. This dome will keep out snow, ice, or rain, which might clog the regulator vent. In systems using more than one regulator, or where the protective cover is not in place, make certain the exposed regulator's vent is in the downward position to keep out moisture.
  • Mark the location of the propane tank and other equipment with snow stakes, which should extend well above the maximum anticipated snow depth. The snow stakes should be painted a bright color to aid in locating the equipment.
  • To ensure that your propane supplier can refill your tank when necessary, keep the tank free of snow and provide a clear pathway for the delivery person. Be sure that driveways are kept accessible for the propane delivery vehicles.
  • If a propane tank is buried under several feet of snow, use your shovel carefully when clearing the snow from the tank or around the exposed piping, regulator, gauges, tubing, or other propane equipment. When clearing your roof, avoid shoveling the snow onto the propane tank or equipment.
  • Check the regulator vents on the propane system to be sure they are free of condensation that could freeze, causing a malfunction. If a regulator vent is clogged with ice or snow, contact your propane supplier immediately.
  • Check all gas appliance intake and exhaust vents, including clothes dryer, furnace, and water heater vents, to be sure snow and ice are kept clear of them. An area of four feet clearance, extending in all directions from the vents, should be kept clear to prevent funneling of high winds into the vents.
  • A final tip for people who head south for the winter: Before you close your home during the winter season, contact your propane supplier to ask if your propane system should be shut down. When you return in the spring, call your propane supplier to reactivate the system. The service person will: 1) pressure test the entire system for leaks; 2) check tank valves, gauges and footings; 3) check and light all gas appliances; and 4) check all gas appliance vents.

For more information on propane safety, contact your local propane supplier or the Propane Education and Research Council at www.propanecouncil.org

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