The employee owners of Crystal Flash take pride in keeping your employees, customers and the public protected. While propane is a safe, reliable, and clean energy source, it is important that you are aware of these basic safety tips.
This following propane safety topic relates to the dangers of heavy, accumulating snowfall.
ESSENTIAL ACTIONS: WHAT TO DO DURING & AFTER SNOWSTORMS
Keep snow and ice from accumulating on propane equipment
Excessive snow or ice accumulation can potentially cause parts of your propane system to become damaged, resulting in a gas leak. It is your responsibility to make sure that all propane pipes, valves, regulators, and tanks are clear of snow and ice. Do not use or allow the use of powered snow removal equipment such as tractors or other types of plows near the propane tank(s), regulator(s), or meter(s), as they could damage the equipment, causing a leak. Gently brush away snow or ice that has accumulated around the tank, meter, regulator, and any piping. Do this using a broom or by hand. If you must use a shovel, use extreme caution around all equipment. If you notice any snow or ice buildup that cannot be removed easily, contact your propane retailer immediately. DO NOT attempt to remove snow or ice by kicking or hitting equipment.
Be alert to snow buildup on rooftops and other areas
Frequently check where snow or ice collect on your roof, structure, or nearby trees and clear it if you believe it might fall on any part of your propane system. Never shovel snow off roofs and onto propane equipment. Heavy accumulations of snow or ice falling on tanks, regulators, meters, piping, or valves may cause damage.
Keep vents clear
Appliance vents and chimney flues must ALWAYS be clear of snow or ice. Some homes or buildings may have “direct” vents, which are close to the ground. Improper venting can cause carbon monoxide to become trapped inside the structure, causing serious illness or even death.
Clear driveways and pathways to propane tanks
Please remember that a propane delivery truck needs at least a 10-foot-wide path to be able to deliver fuel to your property. Also, keep the tank area and a path to the tank free of snow. When plowing, snow blowing, or shoveling, do not push or pile snow around your tank, meter, regulator, or piping, and use caution to avoid striking any equipment that could result in a gas leak.
In high snowfall areas, drifting snow and ice sliding of the roof may require additional regulator and vent protection. Contact your propane supplier when considering the installation of snow protection or a “snow shelter” placed above your gas piping, meter, or regulator to prevent snow and ice damage.
IF YOU SMELL GAS OR SUSPECT A GAS LEAK
NO FLAMES OR SPARKS
Immediately put out all smoking materials and other open flames. Do not operate lights, appliances, telephones, or cell phones. Flames or sparks from these sources can trigger an explosion or a fire.
LEAVE THE AREA IMMEDIATELY
Get everyone out of the building or area where you suspect gas is leaking.
SHUT OFF THE GAS AT THE TANK
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).
REPORT THE LEAK
Once you are safely away from the gas leak, call your propane retailer right away. If you cannot reach your propane retailer, call 911 or your local fire department.
DO NOT RETURN TO THE BUILDING OR AREA
Do not return until your propane retailer, emergency responder, or qualified professional determines that it is safe to do so.
GET YOUR PROPANE SYSTEM CHECKED
Before you attempt to use any of your propane appliances, your propane retailer or a qualified professional must check your entire propane system to ensure that it is leak-free.
PLAN AHEAD: WHAT TO DO BEFORE THE FIRST SNOWFALL
Mark your tank and regulator
Consult with your propane supplier about marking your tank with a brightly colored stake or flag taller than the maximum anticipated snow depth. Also, mark your second stage pressure regulator or meter. It is usually near the side of your home or structure. Check local ordinances about marking tanks and regulators and follow any rules applicable to your jurisdiction. It is important to mark your tank and equipment to enable emergency and propane service personnel to always locate it.
Have an adequate supply of propane in your tank
In high snowfall areas, roads leading to your property might not be accessible for delivery, particularly after a snowstorm. It is recommended that you establish a regular delivery schedule with your propane retailer.
Talk to your contractors
If you use a snow removal service, make sure that the service knows the location of all propane equipment on the property. Instruct them to keep their equipment clear of all parts of your propane system. If your snow removal service shovels snow off your roof, instruct them to never shovel snow onto any part of the propane system. Provide a copy of a propane safety brochure to your snow removal service. If you need additional copies, contact your propane retailer.
Designate an area to pile any accumulation of snow safely away from any propane equipment. Advise snow removal companies of the location of your propane tanks and equipment, so they can keep clear of it to avoid damage and potentially dangerous gas leaks.
KNOWLEDGE IS KEY
Understanding your propane system
Winters in high snowfall areas can be magnificent, but they can also be the most challenging. Accumulated snow and ice have the potential to damage your propane system. While you can’t predict the first snowstorm or hazardous weather condition, you are in the best position to take measures to plan for them.
Get to know your propane system
If you are not familiar with your propane system, take a few minutes to review it. Identify core components — tank, regulators, meter (if present), piping, and supply valves — as well as any appliance vents. Be sure you know where your gas supply valve is located in case you need to close it in an emergency. For more information, contact your propane retailer.
Snowstorms require prompt attention, but your safety comes first. Use caution in the areas surrounding any structure after a storm.
READY WHEN AWAY
Tips for vacation homes, rental properties or seasonal offices
A vacation or second home in a high snowfall area requires special attention because you may not be at the property to clear snow and ice after a winter storm.
For your safety and the safety of others, designate a responsible person or party, such as your property management company or a snow removal service, to monitor your propane system regularly while you are away. Make sure to:
- Show the location of all tanks, pipes, regulators, and other parts of your propane system, and give instructions on the importance of keeping these areas clear of snow and ice.
- Give instructions to regularly and carefully clear snow and ice accumulations away from all propane equipment, including tanks and secondary pressure regulators.
- Provide a copy of a safety brochure and give instructions to follow all safety guidelines. If you need additional brochures, contact your propane retailer.
When you return to the property, carefully examine the propane system for evidence of damage from snow and ice. Be especially attentive to any propane odor, both inside and outside the structure. If you smell gas, take immediate action as provided in this article.
It is a good idea to prepare a diagram of the propane system on your property and to provide it to the responsible party, as well as to your homeowners’ association, property management company, and all contractors who are going to work on the property. This diagram should include your contact information as well as your propane supplier’s information in case of an emergency. You should also make sure your propane retailer has your up-to-date contact information. It is important that emergency personnel be able to contact you as needed.
Information courtesy of Propane Education & Research Council.