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January 25, 2008
Safety Tips from the Local Emergency Planning Committee -
Heavy Snow Can Affect Propane Gas Tanks
During the winter season, many families cook and heat their homes with propane gas, staying warm and comfortable during winter storms and electrical power outages. However, propane equipment requires proper care and some extra safety precautions during the winter to make sure your home remains safe.
Oswego County Fire Coordinator John Hinds notes that the amount of snow Oswego County can receive during the winter can be a hazard to propane tanks and delivery systems. “LP gas is heavier than air and tends to collect in low spots such as basements and ditches,” he says. “It also tends to accumulate around structures that are surrounded by high snow banks.”
The Oswego County Local Emergency Planning Committee and Oswego County Fire Coordinator's Office offer 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 another location. 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.
- Keep snow and ice away from the LP and natural gas meters and regulators to your home.
- When clearing snow from the roof of your home and garage, make sure it does not fall on propane tanks or gas meters.
- To ensure 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 equipment. When clearing your roof, avoid shoveling the snow onto the propane tank or equipment.
- Check the regulator events 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.
- Be aware of the location of shutoff valves, and ensure you can access them if needed.
- Always check out any suspicious odor. Any odors may indicate a dangerous situation.
- Keep combustibles like gasoline or cleaning solvents in a separate room.
More information on the Oswego County LEPC is available by calling the Oswego County Emergency Management Office at 315/591-9150.
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