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Safety Tips for Propane Cylinders

Don’t Use Portable Tanks That Have Been Damaged

grill tank safety north carolina Natural disasters such as hurricanes can result in the exposure of propane cylinders to a variety of hazardous conditions. This includes submersion in floodwaters, impact from flying debris, damage from toppling over, and exposure to foreign contaminants like mud, sewage, oil and grease.

Obviously, any damage can affect the safe operation of propane 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 have been 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 try 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 find the cylinder supplier.

Can I Leave My Propane Tank in the Rain?

Don’t worry. Your portable propane cylinders—also called tanks or bottles– can certainly stand up to all the rain showers we get during the spring and summer. That’s good news, because you should never store propane tanks of any size in any enclosed environment, including a shed, garage, or your home.
When high winds are involved, however, you need to secure your portable tank outside as best as you can to prevent it from becoming a dangerous flying projectile during a hurricane.

If you live in a flood zone, even large stationary propane tanks should be anchored securely to avoid potentially dangerous situations. This is required by the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA). Your North Carolina propane supplier can give you further advice on this.

Safe Handling of Portable Propane Cylinders

These are important 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 try to modify or repair valves, regulators, or other cylinder or appliance parts.
  • DO NOT leave a propane cylinder inside your vehicle on a hot day and always transport your portable tanks in an upright position.

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 of these parts can cause a gas leak. Don’t risk it! Contact your local propane company for help.

How Many Gallons of Propane Is in a Grill Tank?

Grill cylinders are typically referred to as 20-lb. tanks, but for safety reasons, they should never be filled to full capacity. Twenty pounds of propane is the equivalent of 4.6 gallons of propane.

According to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, a “full” tank for your grill contains only about 80% of liquid propane gas to allow space for when the liquid inside warms and expands. There is an Overfill Prevention Device (OPD) built into the cylinder’s valve that will limit the fill to a little less than 20 pounds.

Safety Tips for Grilling

You’ve connected your cylinder to your propane grill, and you’re all set to get down to cooking a meal for your family and friends. That’s great, but as you do that, please keep these five safety tips in mind.

  1. Keep your grill at least six feet away from your home and position it on sturdy and level ground.
  2. Never leave the grill unattended.
  3. Never light a gas grill with the lid closed. To light your grill, open the lid before turning on the gas. If the grill doesn’t light after a couple of clicks, turn off the burner, turn the gas off at the tank, and wait 5 or 10 minutes before attempting to light it again. If you still have trouble, it’s time to call in a propane pro for help.
  4. Close your grill lid quickly to extinguish small flare-ups. It’s also a good idea to have a portable fire extinguisher or fire blanket nearby—just in case.
  5. Never attach or disconnect a propane tank or adjust fittings while the grill is running. If you run out of gas while grilling, turn off all the burners, reconnect the new tank, and re-light the grill.

Read more propane safety tips and watch consumer safety videos.