Atlantic Hurricane Season Begins This Month
June 1 marks the official beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasts a 60% chance of a worse than normal hurricane season, including up to six major hurricanes possibly in the mix. (An average season brings us three major hurricanes).
With the COVID-19 pandemic still causing havoc, officials are advising residents to review their current disaster preparedness plan, including what you have in your emergency kit, evacuation routes, shelters and more.
Propane cylinder safety in the aftermath of a storm
This is also a timely opportunity to share recommended practices for the safe handling of propane cylinders that have been potentially damaged. Natural disasters such as hurricanes can result in the exposure of cylinders to a variety of hazardous conditions. This includes submersion in floodwaters, impact from flying debris, damage from falls, and exposure to foreign contaminants like mud, sewage, oil and grease.
Obviously, any damage can affect their integrity and safe operation of cylinders and related equipment. Keep in mind that the cylinder contents are stored under pressure, which can cause the contents to leak if the container or related equipment is damaged.
Cylinders that are damaged or leaking can pose serious hazards and must be addressed only by trained emergency responders with HAZMAT training or the cylinder supplier. You should never attempt to vent or even handle cylinders that you suspect have been damaged.
Contact information for the cylinder supplier is listed on the cylinder label. If a label is not present, the cylinder neck ring can be used to identify the cylinder supplier.
More safety tips for propane cylinders
Even if your propane cylinders have escaped storm damage, there are a number of safety tips you should follow year-round.
- 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 excessive 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.
- DO NOT under any circumstances attempt to modify or repair valves, regulators, or other cylinder or appliance parts.
Remember: 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. Don’t risk it! Contact your propane retailer or a qualified service technician for assistance.
As always, stay safe during these unpredictable times.