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Travel Tips: Propane Safety

Summer is almost upon us, and with warmer temperatures on our doorsteps, it's a great time to run safety and equipment checks on the RV. This issue, we're focusing on propane safety.

Here are some lifesaving tips on propane safety for your RV, adapted from the BC Safety Authority (BCSA - safetyauthority.ca):

Purchase and Maintain Propane Equipment:

  • Purchase RVs with gas appliances that have been inspected and certified by the BCSA­
  • Buy propane equipment that is certified for use in Canada.
  • Follow RV manufacturer's instructions for operation and maintenance.
  • Have equipment maintained regularly. Use the Canadian Propane Association "Propane Services Directory" at http://www.propaneservices.ca/ to find the right business to help you.
  • If your propane cylinder is dented or has visible rust, be sure to have it inspected by a professional.
  • Ensure your cylinders are inspected and recertified every 10 years.

Use Propane Appliances Safely:

  • Check propane tanks for leaks.
  • Propane appliances may produce Carbon Monoxide (CO) if they are not working properly. CO is a poisonous, colourless, odourless gas.
  • Use appliances for their intended use only. Never use stove burners or ovens for space heating.
  • Never use portable propane camping equipment inside your RV (e.g. camping stoves, barbeques, lanterns, catalytic or radiant heaters).
  • Open a vent or window and turn on the range hood fan when using a propane stove or oven.
  • Use a Canadian certified CO alarm, in addition to your smoke and propane alarms.
  • Check connections for leaks after exchanging propane cylinders. Use a mixture of 50% liquid soap and 50% water applied with a paint brush or a portable gas leak detector. Bubbles equal leaks!

Immediately Seek Medical Attention if Anyone Shows the Following Symptoms of CO Poisoning:

  • headaches
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • confusion
  • impaired judgment
  • lack of physical coordination

Know the Smell of Propane:

  • Propane smells like rotten eggs. If you think you smell propane in your RV get everyone out immediately.
  • Don't smoke, light matches, operate electrical switches, use either cell phones or telephones, or create any other source of ignition.
  • Turn your gas off at the main cylinder, if safe to do so and you know how.
  • Call the area fire department emergency number or 911 from the nearest phone outside of the RV.

Transport Propane Safely:

  • Transport cylinders upright and secured.
  • Transport fewer than 5 cylinders at a time.
  • Keep tanks and other liquid fuel out of the passenger seat or living area of your RV.
  • Purchase a safety product that will help you secure your propane cylinder and keep it upright during transportation.
  • Ensure the cylinder has proper ventilation - roll down the rear passenger side window if it is in the back seat or if being transported in the trunk of a vehicle, secure the trunk so that it's partially open.
  • Turn off the engine and all appliances and pilot lights before refuelling your vehicle.

When it comes time to dispose of your tanks, ensure they are empty and take them to your landfill or transfer station. Many landfills and transfer stations no longer accept non-refillable, single-use tanks (camping propane containers) because they are difficult and expensive to recycle. Switch to refillable tanks wherever possible. Never place a pressurized container in your garbage; they can cause explosions when compacted in collection trucks.

Enjoy the convenience of propane year-round with these safety tips. Remember: when in doubt, don't take chances.

Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia

Travel British Columbia