Handle and store propane correctly

The health and safety of customers and employees are vital to the propane industry. Whether you are a first-time customer or a veteran in the propane workforce, this section offers a wide array of valuable information on the safe usage and storage of propane.

Become familiar with propane before adopting it for your daily needs

Everyday Safety for Consumers

Barbecue

Many Canadians love to barbecue all year-round, especially when the weather starts to get warm. Propane is a clean energy source and is one of the most popular ways to heat the grill. It is portable, efficient, and emits half the carbon dioxide emissions of a charcoal barbecue.

It is important to regularly maintain your barbecue and ensure it is in good working order. Follow these important barbecue safety tips for proper operation of your barbecue and safe grilling.

Taking Your Barbecue Out of Storage

At the start of the barbecue season or when you change the propane cylinder, complete this three-step safety check:

  1. Clean: Use a pipe cleaner or wire to ensure burner ports are free of rust, dirt, spider webs or other debris.
  2. Check: Examine the hose leading from the tank to the burners. Replace if cracked or damaged.
  3. Test: Find leaks by applying a 50/50 solution of water and dish soap to propane cylinder connections and hoses. If bubbles appear, tighten the connection and/or replace the damaged parts and retest. Never use matches or lighters to check for leaks. If you have concerns about a leak, contact a qualified service technician.

Follow these steps when igniting a barbecue:

  1. Open the lid.
  2. Open the propane cylinder service valve.
  3. Turn on grill/burner valves or heat settings.
  4. Take a step back.
  5. Push the igniter button. If there is no igniter button, insert a long match or barbecue lighter through the side burner hole first, then turn on the heat control knob.
  6. If the burner does not ignite right away, turn the propane off and wait five minutes, keeping the lid open, before repeating the procedure.

Follow these steps when you are finished barbecuing:

  1. Turn the valve off first when finished, then turn off the burner controls, so no propane is left in the connecting hose.
  2. Allow the barbecue to cool completely before closing the lid or covering.

Keep it Outside!

Barbecues are approved for outdoor use only. They emit carbon monoxide (CO), a colourless, odourless gas that is dangerous in enclosed spaces, and can lead to unconsciousness and even death. Never barbecue in a garage, tent or other enclosed space. Always use and store your barbecue and propane cylinders outdoors, upright, in a stable, well-ventilated area.

Barbecue Do's and Don'ts

DO...

Keep loose clothing away from a hot barbecue.

Keep children and pets at a safe distance.

If you suspect a leak or the barbecue is not working correctly, contact a qualified service technician.

Position your barbecue away from wooden fences or walls.

Ensure the area behind your barbecue is free of combustible material.

DON’T...

X Leave the barbecue unattended when in use.

X Allow grease to build up on the burners or at the base of the barbecue, as this could cause a grease fire.

X Throw water on a grease fire – this will only spread the flame.

X Use lighter fluid or accelerants on the grill.

X Store or place spare cylinders near the barbecue, or near sources of heat or ignition.

X Store or use a barbecue on your apartment balcony, unless authorized.

Patio Heater

Propane heaters can help take the bite out of the cold when temperatures start to cool down. Propane is a safe, affordable and green energy choice – perfect for the patio! Knowing how to use patio heaters and open flame appliances safely will help everyone enjoy outdoor dining well into the fall and winter season.

Use Patio Heaters Outside Only

  • Propane cylinders should never be stored indoors.
  • Cylinders must be stored upright and safeguarded with protection that is tamper-proof and could withstand vehicle impact, such as a locked cage or fenced-in area.
  • If you need to store your patio heater indoors for security reasons, remove the propane cylinder first.

Look Up and Around

  • Install the heaters according to the manufacturers’ instructions regarding ceiling height clearance and proper distancing from any fire hazards, building openings or mechanical air intakes.
  • Fire hazards can be located around, above, or underneath heating units and can include combustible materials such as umbrellas, awnings, tent walls, tablecloths, paper products, decorations, etc.
  • Do not position patio heaters next to or in the path of an exit, including fire escapes. Do not obstruct firefighting equipment such as fire hydrants and fire department connections.
  • Do make sure that propane cylinders are not stored near operating heaters or smoking areas. A cylinder is in storage when not connected to an appliance

Keep Them Stable

  • Make sure heaters are on a stable surface so they do not get knocked over.
  • Do not install heaters on grass or an uneven sidewalk, or near the edge of an elevated platform.
  • Make sure all free-standing units have an anti-tilt feature.

Move Them with Care

  • Never move portable heaters while the flame is lit. Make sure the propane supply is properly shut off and the unit cool before relocating.
  • Use caution when moving propane cylinders to avoid dropping or impact.
  • Make sure heaters are on a stable surface so they do not get knocked over.

Safely Transport Cylinders

  • Disconnect cylinders and plug or cap all outlets before you go.
  • Never leave a cylinder in a parked vehicle with the windows up. Heat builds up quickly and could cause an explosive release of propane in the vehicle.
  • Always carry the cylinder in an upright position with the safety valve on top.
  • Do not transport cylinders in an enclosed space. Open windows, a propped open trunk, or a ventilated truck box are safe ways to transport a cylinder.
  • Secure the cylinder in the upright position so it cannot tip over while you are driving.
  • Do not transport or use propane containers that are damaged, show signs of corrosion, have been exposed to fire, or appear to be leaking.

Cylinder Recycling

Propane cylinders should never be thrown in household garbage or recycling containers for roadside pick-up!

 

Handle Propane Cylinders Correctly

If your refillable propane cylinder has expired, or is rusted, dented or otherwise damaged, it can no longer be filled. These cylinders must be requalified or disposed of and recycled through the appropriate channels.

Even when you think it is empty, a propane cylinder will still contain some residual propane. Whether you plan to requalify or recycle it, cylinders should always be handled safely and with care.

Check out the listing for cylinder disposal resources in your province.

Disposal Options

In most parts of Canada, provinces and municipalities make household hazardous waste collection facilities available to businesses and households.

In many cases, gas stations and retailers who sell new cylinders and outlets that refill propane cylinders will take back expired cylinders, particularly if you purchase a new one. However, this is not mandated and is at the discretion of the retailer.

Camping and Single-Use Cylinders

Manufacturers such as Coleman and Bernzomatic distribute one-pound, nonrefillable cylinders for use by campers and tradespeople. While handy, these singleuse cylinders cause collection and disposal issues for provincial parks and municipalities.

If you need to use these cylinders, remember the following:

  • Never leave them at your campsite or dump them in a park.
  • Only dispose of them at parks in designated enclosed collection cages.
  • Never place them in household waste or in construction/renovation bins.
  • Even if the cylinders have been emptied and depressurized using a special ‘key’, they must still be disposed of through the correct channels – they are still considered hazardous waste.

Expiration Date and Requalification

In Canada, refillable propane cylinders must be replaced or inspected and requalified by a Transport Canada every 10 years. It’s against the law to fill an expired or damaged cylinder. (Note: Select the “External Visual” cylinder requalification method for propane cylinders).

Cylinders are regulated by Transport Canada and bear a TC stamp on the collar. Marks are stamped onto the collar of cylinders identifying the original date of manufacture and any subsequent re-testing dates. See the CPA fact sheet on Propane Cylinder Markings for more details.

Handling & Transporting Propane Cylinders

Small cylinders are compact and portable – it is no wonder they are used extensively for RVing, camping, and backpacking, not to mention powering outdoor equipment like fire pits and barbecues.

These cylinders are safe when properly used and handled:

  • Inspect your propane camping equipment carefully before you leave home. Check for leaks by soaking each fuel cylinder connection with soapy water or leak solution and look for telltale bubbles. If you detect a leak, call your propane supplier.
  • Make sure you are familiar with the manufacturers’ written operating and maintenance instructions of any appliance that you are using.
  • When shopping for propane equipment for your RV or camping, make sure the product is certified for Canada.
  • Do not use portable propane camping equipment in your RV.
  • Use propane equipment on a level surface in an open, well-ventilated area away from shrubs or dry wood. Never turn in at night with a stove, cooker or lantern still burning.
  • Never smoke while handling a propane cylinder.

Storing Propane Cylinders

  • Whether full or empty, new, or old, always store cylinders outdoors whenever possible, away from heat or sources of ignition (matches, smoking materials, etc.).
  • Keep propane cylinders in a secure, well-ventilated area, off the ground, on a non-combustible base, and store in an upright position.
  • When storing, disconnect cylinders, plug, or cap all cylinder outlets.
  • Never store spare cylinders under or near the barbecue.

Transporting Propane Cylinders

To bring cylinders home or to camping sites, follow these easy tips:

  • Disconnect cylinders and plug or cap all outlets before you go.
  • Always carry the cylinder in an upright position with the safety valve on top.
  • Never put a propane cylinder in a closed vehicle. If you put it inside the passenger compartment have all the windows open. Placing it on the floor of the passenger compartment is ideal. When in the trunk, block the trunk lid open.
  • Never leave a cylinder in a parked vehicle with the windows up. Heat builds up quickly and could cause an explosive release of propane in the vehicle.
  • Secure the cylinder in the upright position so it cannot tip over while you are driving.
  • Do not transport or use propane containers that are damaged, show signs of corrosion, have been exposed to fire, or appear to be leaking.

Reusable Propane Cylinders

Reusable five-pound cylinders are an eco-friendly alternative to one-pound cylinders for use in camping, barbecuing, heating, torching, and much more. We encourage Canadians to use five-pound cylinders for a few reasons:

  • The small one-pound cylinders are typically manufactured and filled from supplies outside of Canada. Although the five-pound cylinders may be slightly larger and heavier, you are supporting your local Canadian suppliers.
  • While handy, single-use cylinders cause collection and disposal issues for provincial parks and municipalities, whereas you can refill a five-pound cylinder at a propane refill location.

IMPORTANT! It is illegal by Canadian law to refill cylinders without proper training!

Refillable one-pound cylinder kits manufactured to specification TC-39M, and aerosol containers are being sold in Canada.

The kits allow consumers to illegally refill their cylinders and come with a stand for a home barbecue 20 lb cylinder and connectors.

Remember this picture for easy recognition of the product.

Regulation requires:

  • Filling must be done by personnel trained for that purpose.
  • All propane cylinders are filled to a maximum 80% liquid level for safety reasons, which is not possible with these refill kits.
  • The cylinder sold in this kit can be refilled by a person who is trained in the process, but cylinders known as a ‘single trip’ or ‘non-refillable cylinder cannot be refilled – it is difficult to distinguish the difference between refillable and non-refillable cylinders. Refilling non-refillable cylinders is a safety risk as it is not designed to handle the refilling pressure.
  • Do not attempt to refill aerosol containers or any cylinder that is manufactured and marked as TC-39M.

The Canadian Propane Association reminds you that there is a safety risk for those not properly trained in the use and hazards of propane.

Carbon Monoxide 101

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas.

In homes and other enclosed spaces, carbon monoxide (CO) is dangerous; it can make you sick or, in extreme cases, cause brain damage and death.

CO poisoning symptoms include headache, shortness of breath, dizziness, drowsiness, watering and sore eyes, confusion, nausea and fatigue.

Even a small amount of CO is dangerous in your home, garage, vehicle, cottage, boat, recreational vehicle or tent. Children, people with heart and respiratory conditions, and the elderly, may be particularly sensitive to CO’s effects.

To help reduce the risk of CO poisoning:

  • Have a qualified service technician check your propane appliances and related venting systems annually.
  • Ensure there is adequate air supply and venting for combustion.
  • Install CO detectors on every level of your home.
  • Never use a barbecue in an enclosed space.
  • Never use a gas oven or range-top burners to provide space heating, and never use portable heaters indoors, unless they are designed and approved for indoor use.
  • Be aware of environmental signs, such as an abnormal burning odour, stale or stuffy air, abnormal moisture forming on windows and walls, soot on equipment or a yellow flame at the burner tip of an appliance. If any of these occur, turn off the appliance and speak with a licensed professional.

If you suspect CO is present or someone is showing symptoms of CO poisoning:

  • Evacuate the building and call 911.
  • If safe to do so, open windows and turn off appliances you suspect may be releasing CO.
  • Call your propane supplier or a qualified service technician to check CO levels and your propane equipment

Appliances and Detectors

When shopping for propane appliances and CO detectors, always ask if the product is certified by an agency recognized in the province of use, such as the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC).

Only a qualified service technician should install, inspect, service and repair your appliances

  • Have your appliances and propane system inspected before the start of each heating season.
  • Use and maintain appliances as directed. Refer to the manufacturer’s operating manuals.
  • Ensure the indoor and outdoor vents and air inlet ducts for all appliances are not corroded or blocked, and that they are open and/or turned on.
  • Clear the area around your appliances, so plenty of air can reach the burner for proper combustion.
  • Do not try to modify or repair valves, regulators, connectors, controls, or other appliance and tank parts.
  • Learn how to turn off the propane supply to your appliances.

Renovating? If you are adding a new fuel-burning appliance or making changes to your home’s ventilation system, including adding new windows and additional insulation, consult a qualified service technician. Changes may upset the operation and proper venting of existing appliances.

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