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Safety Checklist for
Propane Users
in Hurricane and Tornado Season

For those homeowners relying on propane gas during hurricanes and tornados for heating, cooking, and power needs, the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) offers reminders on safely preparing for, and recovering from, these strong summer storms.

Hurricane/Tornado Preparation

  1. Make sure propane tanks are properly secured.
  2. Know how and where to shut off the outdoor propane supply and indoor propane appliances. For more information, contact your propane retailer.
  3. Make sure you and your family know what propane smells like. Propane has a strong, unpleasant smell like rotten eggs.
  4. It is recommended that you consider installing a carbon monoxide (CO) detector listed by Underwriters Laboratory (UL) on every level of your home. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding installation, location, and maintenance.
  5. Propane gas detectors provide an additional measure of security. It is recommended that you consider installing propane gas detectors listed by UL. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding installation, location, and maintenance.
  6. Ensure that your tank is filled to a level that will fuel your home in the event of a power outage.
  7. Never store or place a propane cylinder indoors or in an enclosed area such as a basement, garage, shed, or tent.

What To Do When A Hurricane Or Tornado Approaches

  1. Listen to your local authorities, or television and radio stations, and follow their instructions on the appropriate course of action to take.
  2. Whether it is determined that you should stay or evacuate your home, farm, or business, the following steps are recommended:
    1. Turn off the main gas supply valve on your propane tank, if it is safe to do so. To close the valve, turn it to the right (clockwise).
    2. Turn off the gas supply valves located near individual indoor appliances.

What To Do After A Hurricane Or Tornado

  • Use extreme caution. If you have any doubts about your safety, leave the area immediately and have your property inspected by a qualified building inspector or your propane retailer.
  • Look for visible structural damage. If it is dark, use flashlights, not candles.
  • If you smell gas:
    1. NO FLAMES OR SPARKS! Immediately put out all smoking materials and other open flames. Do not operate electrical switches, lights, appliances, telephones, or cell phones. Flames or sparks from these sources can trigger an explosion or a fire.
    2. LEAVE THE AREA IMMEDIATELY! Get everyone out of the building or area where you suspect gas is leaking.
    3. SHUT OFF THE GAS. Turn off the main gas supply valve on your propane tank, if it is safe to do so. To close the valve, turn it to the right (clockwise).
    4. REPORT THE LEAK. From a neighbor’s home or other building away from the gas leak, call your propane retailer right away. If you can’t reach your propane retailer, call 911 or your local fire department.
    5. DO NOT RETURN TO THE BUILDING OR AREA until your propane retailer determines that it is safe to do so.
    6. GET YOUR SYSTEM CHECKED. Before you attempt to use any of your propane appliances, your propane retailer or a qualified service technician must check your entire system to ensure that it is leak-free.
  • Look for water and other damage.
  • Inspect all propane appliances for water or other damage. Appliances with electrical components that have been exposed to water can create a fire hazard.
  • Never turn on a light switch, use any power source, or inspect your household appliances while standing in water. This can result in electrocution.
  • If you suspect that any of your propane appliances have been under water or damaged, turn off your gas supply.
  • Inspect chimneys, flue pipes, and vent connectors for damage, blockage, or debris.
  • Check gas lines and connectors to each appliance to see if they have shifted or cracked.
  • Do not under any circumstances try to modify or repair valves, regulators, or other appliance parts.

Other important safety tips:

  • Never use outdoor propane appliances indoors or in enclosed areas. This can result in carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and death. These include outdoor portable heaters, barbecue grills, and standby generators. Only use appliances indoors that are designed and approved for indoor use.
  • Never use a gas oven or range-top burners to provide space heating.
  • Get your propane system checked.
  • Contact your propane retailer if you suspect your propane appliances, equipment, or vehicles have been under water or damaged, or if you have turned off your gas. Your propane retailer or a qualified service technician needs to conduct a complete inspection of your propane system. The technician will perform a leak test on the system and re-light your pilot lights.
To learn about the role of propane in emergency preparedness and planning, including real-world stories from Hurricane Katrina, visit www.propanecast.com.