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What a Gas!! Propane Use and Safety Prepared by Marilyn Rausch

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1 What a Gas!! Propane Use and Safety Prepared by Marilyn Rausch
Indiana DAT/Safety Program August 2009

2 Interesting facts Propane
Propane was first discovered in 1910, and the patent for the processing technique was granted in 1913. Produced as a by-product of natural gas processing and oil refining. North American Propane is stored in huge salt caverns in Ft. Saskatchewan, Alberta, Canada, Mont Belvieu, Texas, and Conway, Kansas. Propane is used as the fuel flamethrowers use, is the primary fuel for hot air balloons, and is used in movies and theme parks for explosions and other special effects. In 1950, propane-fueled buses were used by the Chicago Transit Authority. Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

3 Propane has a good safety record
Stringent codes and regulations have been developed by the propane industry and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Propane has naturally safe features: Narrow range of flammability (narrow propane/air mix for burning limits the ignition levels.) Ignition temperature is high (940⁰F in contrast to gasoline, which ignites at 430⁰-500⁰) Low boiling point (-43.6⁰F) makes it vaporize as soon as it hits air (Doesn’t need a carburetor to turn it into a gas from its transportable liquid state). Remember, though, that propane is heavier than air, so it will descend under the air and can accumulate in low spaces of your home, motor home, or camper. Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

Removable container (travel trailers, 5th wheels, etc.) DOT (Department of Transportation) design, with additional safeguards, such as the OPD (overfill protection device) , needed because they are disconnected regularly. The non-professional owner disconnects the cylinders when a fill is needed. Requires extra safety features to prevent accidents. Must be kept in an upright position at all times. Require periodic recertification. Propane TANK Permanently mounted propane container (motor homes) ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) design: does not require the OPD valves (has its own check valve and overfill protection. Has a permanent connection to the motorhome’s propane system with an extra fitting for connection at fill stations. Rarely needs to be disconnected from the motor home. Must be kept in a horizontal position. Do not require recertification. Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

5 Federal and State Government Propane Cylinder Regulations
Essentially deal with Safe filling practices Determining if cylinders are safe and legal to fill. Cylinders are subject to recertification (also known as requalification) twelve years from their date of manufacture and every five years after that. At this time, ASME tanks do not require requalification Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

6 These steps are required every time a cylinder is filled:
STEPS FOR INSPECTING DOT/ICC CYLINDERS These steps are required every time a cylinder is filled: Step 1: Check the cylinder requalification date Step 2: Determine the overall fitness of the cylinder Step 3: Identify required cylinder markings Step 4: Identify required cylinder labels Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

7 12 years after their manufacture date
STEP 1: CHECK THE CYLINDER REQUALIFICATION DATE. All DOT/ICC cylinders used to transport propane must be requalified 12 years after their manufacture date every 5, 7, or 12 years thereafter, depending on the method used for the last requalification. . Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

There are three ways to requalify a cylinder. The specific method used is indicated on the date stamped on each cylinder. 􀁎 Hydrostatic Test— A date without a letter indicates the cylinder was subjected to a complete water jacket hydrostatic test. The next requalification must be within 12 years. 􀁎 Proof Pressure Test— A date followed by the letter “S” indicates a proof pressure test has been performed. The next requalification must be within 7 years. 􀁎 External Visual— A date followed by the letter “E” indicates a recorded external visual inspection was performed. The next requalification must be within 5 years. Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

9 that does not have a current requalification date
STEP 1: CHECK THE CYLINDER REQUALIFICATION DATE. A DOT/ICC cylinder that does not have a current requalification date must be removed from service cannot be refilled until it has been retested or requalified. A cylinder may require requalification sooner if it is damaged or subjected to physical abuse, excessive corrosion, or heat. Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

10 When the requalification (If you know where to look)
How can you tell When the requalification Is due? It’s in plain view! (If you know where to look) Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

11 Identification Markings Required on
11 2 Identification Markings Required on DOT/ICC Propane Storage Exchange Cylinders 9 1 6 Cylinder markings (on the collar or ring of cylinders) DOT (ICC) Specifications. Manufacturer’s Inspector’s Symbol Month and year of the Manufacturer’s Inspection Manufacturer’s, Owner’s or User’s symbol (registered with the Bureau of Explosives.) Serial Number (together with the symbol identifies the one particular cylinder. The figure following DT is the correct length of the dip tube in inches and decimal fractions, which should be used for volume filling of this size and type cylinder Tare (empty) weight of the cylinder with valve(s), used when filling by weight or verifying filling by volume. Water Capacity in pounds when filled to 100% of capacity. Owner’s name and address The word “RETEST,” indicating space for retest or periodic inspection marking. The cylinder manufacturer’s name and trademark. 4 5 11 10 3 7 8 6-8 required by DOT (ICC) regulations 9-11 Required by NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency). Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

12 Manufacturer’s Date: 10/88
First Requalification date: 10/00 External Vision Technique Most Recent Requalification date: 10/05 External Vision Technique Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

13 Determine the overall fitness of the cylinder
Step 2 Determine the overall fitness of the cylinder There are four main parts to the Cylinder Protective Collar Valve Body Foot ring Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

14 Propane Cylinder Protective Collar
The valve of a propane cylinder is required to be protected by a protective collar, also called a neck ring. The absence of a protective collar leaves the cylinders valve(s) susceptible to serious damage. An unprotected valve hit hard enough can break off allowing liquid propane to escape at a dangerously fast rate. The escaping propane can act as propulsion for the cylinder allowing it to become a dangerous projectile. The collar also serves as the location for required markings pertinent to the cylinder's construction data and specifications. Without the protective collar, a propane cylinder is unfit for continued propane use and illegal to fill. Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

15 The foot ring ensures the LP Gas cylinder remains vertical
Foot rings act as the "legs" of the cylinder so that it will stand upright and level. If the cylinder is on its side, liquid propane can enter the service valve and result in an explosive situation. It can also cause the pressure relief valve to malfunction. The rings keep the storage container from resting on the ground. If the cylinder rests on the ground, it can be subjected more to damage and corrosion. Cylinders without a foot ring are unfit for LP Gas use and are illegal to refill. Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

16 The cylinder body makes up the bulk of the container.
The container is made commonly of steel or aluminum. It should be free of bulges and dents. Dents and bulges compromise the integrity of a propane container. Fire damage renders ALUMINUM cylinders unfit for future use. Federal requirements state the cylinder be removed from service if there is any indication that its integrity is compromised. Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

17 What makes a cylinder unfit for refilling
Cracks or leaks Bulging Serious denting or gouging Defective valves Defective or leaking pressure relief device. Damage to the cylinder valve, valve protector or cylinder foot rings. Evidence of physical abuse, fire or heat damage, excessive rusting or corrosion. (Steel cylinders subjected to fire must be requalified, reconditioned or repaired. Aluminum must be permanently removed from service. IF ANY OF THESE ARE FOUND, THE CYLINDER MAY NOT BE REFILLED OR TRANSPORTED UNTIL IT IS REQUALIFIED ACCORDING TO DOT REGULATIONS. Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

18 By design, all propane gas containers are manufactured to withstand
extensive external damage. The picture below is a 5 gallon steel buffer cylinder that fell onto a highway and was struck by a vehicle. The damage to the vehicle was by far more extensive than the damage to the propane bottle. Although this cylinder is no longer fit for continued service, the structural strength of the container is depicted in this picture . In short, propane cylinders are designed to withstand impact without rupturing or exploding Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

19 Examples of cylinders that must be rejected.
Foot Ring Damage Excessive general corrosion Neck Ring Damage Examples of cylinders that must be rejected. Dent at weld Bulging & Fire Damage Corrosion Pitting Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

20 Damage to any component can cause a gas leak.
This picture illustrates the complexity and compact design of a propane cylinder valve. These valves are generally not repaired. They are replaced if they malfunction or become inoperable. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES TRY TO MODIFY OR REPAIR VALVES, REGULATORS, OR OTHER CYLINDER OR APPLIANCE PARTS. Propane cylinders incorporate special components such as valves, connectors, and other parts to keep them safe for use with grills and other propane appliances. Damage to any component can cause a gas leak. Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

21 As the cylinder is filled, the dip tube floats at the top of the liquid.
When the cylinder is filled at 80% volume, the OPD float (similar to the float in a toilet tank) closes, and prevents the inflow of further propane. How it works Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

22 You can tell an OPD valve by its shape Non OPD OPD
OPD Valves have been required since March 31, 2002 Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

23 Overfill Prevention Device Valve
Only purpose is as a backup to prevent overfilling the cylinder over 80% volume. Volume or weight is still used as the primary filling gauge. The OPD Valve only allows propane in and out of the tank ONLY when specially- threaded connections are used. OPD equipped cylinders will not allow gas to leave the cylinder when the valve is opened without an appropriate appliance. (You cannot “test” if gas is in the container by opening the valve. Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

24 Identify required cylinder labels
Step 4: Identify required cylinder labels Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

25 Label must be readable and include
Shipping Label: Label must be readable and include the proper shipping name (LP-Gas UN 1075) and its hazard class (2) Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

26 Consumer Information Warning Label
NFPA 58 requires a consumer information label for all portable, refillable propane cylinders of 100 lb or less that are not filled on site. This label includes information on the potential hazards of propane. Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

27 OSHA Warning Label To help commercial and industrial customers
meet OSHA requirements, many propane marketers attach an OSHA warning label to cylinders that will be handled by customer employees. This label warns employees about the hazardous material stored in the cylinder. Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

28 Propane Cylinder Care Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

29 Propane Cylinder Care Avoid ROUGH HANDLING that can damage the foot ring or neck ring. If RUST is noticed on the cylinder, a wire brush can be used to remove the rust followed by painting over the spot where rust was removed. PAINT should be reflective white so that heat will not build up within the unit. STORAGE: Avoid areas of high traffic location prone to flooding or water puddling. Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

NEVER store or place a propane cylinder indoors or in an enclosed area such as a basement, garage, shed, or tent.   NEVER store or place a propane cylinder in an area of excessive heat (120 degrees or higher) or near a stove, fireplace, or other heat source. The heat builds up pressure inside the cylinder, which may cause the pressure relief valve to release propane. Flash fires or explosions can result from exposing cylinders to heat. NEVER store or place a spare cylinder under or near a barbecue grill. DO NOT smoke or have any ignition sources such as flames or spark-producing electrical tools in the area while handling or transporting cylinders. Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

ALWAYS transport and store a cylinder in a secure and upright position so it will not fall, shift, or roll. ALWAYS close the cylinder valve and, if required, seal with a plug, even if the cylinder is empty. Ask your propane retailer if a plug is required. NEVER keep a filled cylinder inside a hot vehicle or transport it inside a closed trunk. ALWAYS place the cylinder in a well-ventilated area of the vehicle. ALWAYS proceed directly to your destination and immediately remove the cylinder from your vehicle. The law places limits on the number of cylinders and the amount of propane that can be transported in closed-bodied vehicles such as passenger cars and vans. Ask your propane retailer for more information on state and local codes that apply to you.     Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

32 The odor of propane is akin to The smell of rotten eggs
or boiling cabbage Odor is purposefully added to make the presence of leaking propane more obvious Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

33 Some people have difficulty smelling propane because
age (older people may have a less sensitive sense of smell) a medical condition (cold, allergies, sinus congestion, etc.) Reduced sense of smell because of medication, alcohol, tobacco, or drugs “odor fatigue” (nose gets tired after odor present for some time. Odor may not waken someone from sleep Smell may concentrate in a different area of the building. Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

34 Odor Loss. Even faint odors of propane should be cause for concern!
On rare occasions, propane can lose its odor. Several things can cause this including: Air, water, or rust in a propane tank or cylinder can reduce propane odor concentration. (New and reconditioned small cylinders that sit too long before being filled are prone to internal rust.) If the propane is leaking underground, its passage through soil may reduce the smell of propane. The propane odor may stick to the inside surfaces of gas piping and distribution systems and possibly other materials Even faint odors of propane should be cause for concern! Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

35 A propane gas detector is an additional measure of security.
ALWAYS TRUST YOUR NOSE (even if the propane detector is not sounding an alarm!) Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program


Immediately put out all smoking materials and other open flames. If you are able to, safely turn off the cylinder valve. To close the valve, turn it to the right (clockwise). Immediately leave the area and call 911 or your local fire department. Before you restart the appliance, have a qualified service technician inspect your cylinder and appliance. Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

38 This can be accomplished with a simple “bubble” test:
HOW TO TEST FOR PROPANE LEAKS It is important to inspect your cylinder and outdoor gas appliances for leaks. Do this before using them for the first time each season, as well as on a regular basis. This can be accomplished with a simple “bubble” test: Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

39 The “Bubble Test” Apply leak detector solution or thick soapy water to the “X”ed areas in the diagram below. Slowly open the cylinder valve and watch for bubbles. If bubbles appear, close the cylinder valve, tighten the connection, and repeat the process. If bubbles still appear, call your propane retailer immediately. Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

40 Propane Cylinder Disposal
When a cylinder is no longer fit for service, it will need to be properly disposed of. Any residual gas must be removed by someone licensed to do this. After all propane is transferred, the cylinder is depressurized. Tank connections, valves and gauges must be removed and scrapped (they cannot be reused). CYLINDER DISPOSAL IS HAZARDOUS AND IS BEST LEFT TO PERSONS TRAINED AND LICENSED TO DO SO! Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

41 Exchange Cautions Ideally, propane tanks should be refilled, not exchanged. Exchange tanks have an unknown history. An example is the following warning. Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

42 It has come to the attention of the National Propane Gas Association that propane cylinders are being used in the manufacturing of Methamphetamines. Manufacturers of this illegal substance are using propane cylinders for the storage and the use of anhydrous ammonia. Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

43 unexpected expulsion of the valve from the cylinder,
The brass valve in a propane cylinder will be damaged if it comes in contact with anhydrous ammonia. This deterioration will lead to cracking of the valve body or its components and can ultimately result in a violent, unexpected expulsion of the valve from the cylinder, causing personal injury or death. Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

44 As observed in the illustrations,
a blue-green stain on any brass portion of a service valve is evidence that it may have been in contact with anhydrous ammonia*. Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

45 The pungent odor of ammonia on or near the cylinder is also an indication.
Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

46 It can be dangerous to move the cylinder due to the unknown integrity of the cylinder's service valve. Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

47 Immediately your Fire Department,
contact your Fire Department, Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Unit or the nearest office of the United States Department of Justice's Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for information on properly disposing of the cylinder. Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

48 A word about CARBON MONOXIDE
Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

49 High levels of CO can be produced when fuels are burned incompletely.
Carbon monoxide (CO) A colorless, odorless, tasteless, and toxic gas. Produced by Smoking a cigarette idling a gasoline engine burning fuel oil, wood, kerosene, natural gas, and propane High levels of CO can be produced when fuels are burned incompletely. Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

50 Initial symptoms of high levels of CO include
CO CAN BE DEADLY! Initial symptoms of high levels of CO include Dizziness Headaches flu-like symptoms Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

51 Those particularly susceptible to CO poisoning are
Young children the elderly people with heart disease those under the influence of alcohol drugs medication Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

52 If you or a family member shows
IF YOU SUSPECT CO IS PRESENT, ACT IMMEDIATELY! If you or a family member shows physical symptoms of CO poisoning, get everyone out of the building call 911 or your local fire department. If it is safe to do so open windows to allow entry of fresh air turn off any appliances you suspect may be releasing the CO. Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

Have a qualified service technician check your propane appliances and venting systems annually Install UL-listed CO detectors on every level of your home. Never use a gas oven or range-top burners to provide space heating. Never use portable heaters indoors, unless they are designed and approved for indoor use. Never use a barbecue grill (propane or charcoal) indoors for cooking or heating. Regularly check your appliance exhaust vents for blockage. Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

54 Unfamiliar or burning odor Increased moisture inside of windows
SIGNS OF IMPROPER APPLIANCE OPERATION THAT CAN GENERATE HIGH CO LEVELS: Sooting, especially on appliances and vents Unfamiliar or burning odor Increased moisture inside of windows Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

55 SUMMARY Equipment concerns
Never use, store or transport propane cylinders in the passenger space of your RV. Inspect your propane cylinders for damage before transporting. Check that the person refilling you cylinder is certified to do so, and that the required safety checks are done Be aware of the requalification dates on your cylinder. Before refilling your propane cylinder or ASME tank, check that Engine is off Pilot lights are extinguished All occupants of the RV are out Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

56 SUMMARY, continued Use concerns
Do not use portable outdoor propane camping equipment such as camp stoves, barbecues or radiant heaters inside your RV. Open a vent or window and turn on the range hood fan when using a propane stove or oven. This will remove moisture and combustion products that may contain carbon monoxide. Never use stove burners or the oven for space heating. Never cook while your RV is moving. Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

57 SUMMARY, continued Other Safety concerns Know the smell.
If you detect the rotten egg odor of propane get everyone out of the vehicle close the supply valve. Be aware if you have a condition that limits your sense of smell. Don’t assume that a faint smell is of no consequence. TRUST YOUR NOSE! Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

58 If they occur, have everyone leave the RV and get medical attention.
SUMMARY, continued Other Safety concerns Know the signs. of carbon monoxide poisoning Headaches Nausea Dizziness Drowsiness Confusion Impaired judgment Loss of manual dexterity If they occur, have everyone leave the RV and get medical attention. Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

59 even if the alarm is not sounding.
SUMMARY, continued Other Safety concerns Get alarmed! Install and regularly test Both a propane gas alarm and carbon monoxide alarm. Trust your instincts even if the alarm is not sounding. Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

60 Respected and used properly
Propane, Respected and used properly Is safe Convenient And efficient Indiana FCRV DAT/Safety Program

61 What a Gas!!

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