Tornadoes, Propane, & Safety

Keeping your family safe

This is information you need to know about propane safety and how to keep your family safe during and after a tornado. By taking a few simple propane-related safety precautions and discussing them with your family, you can reduce the potential for property loss, personal injury, and even death.

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10 Things You Can Do to Keep Your Family Safe

If your home uses propane, there are a few simple steps you can take to keep your family safe and avoid potential dangers.

  1. Create an emergency preparedness plan and review it with everyone in your family. Post a list with contact information for your propane retailer and emergency services (fire department, etc.) along with instructions for turning off propane, electricity, and water. If you do need to turn off your propane, contact a service technician to inspect your propane system prior to turning it back on.
  2. Consider installing UL-listed propane gas detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. These detectors provide you with an additional measure of security. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding installation, location, and maintenance.
  3. If severe weather is in your area, listen to your local authorities, or television and radio stations, for instructions on the appropriate course of action to take. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes can develop and move quickly. Have a battery-powered radio available in the event that the power goes out.
  4. If a tornado is approaching, immediately take action. If you are inside your home or a building, go to the lowest level possible such as a basement or a storm cellar. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level. If you are in a mobile home, trailer, or vehicle, get out immediately and seek shelter in a sturdy building or storm shelter.
  5. After a tornado has struck, use extreme caution and take the time to carefully evaluate the condition of all the structures on your property. Check the entire area for downed power lines, damaged gas lines, or damage to your propane tank. If your propane tank becomes dislodged from its service line, it’s likely to be leaking gas out into the surrounding area. A spark from a fallen power line or other ignition source could pose a danger to anyone nearby. Also, debris and water can find their way inside regulators and controls, causing potential safety issues. If it is dark, use flashlights, not candles. Immediately call your local utility company or propane retailer if any of these hazards exist. Do not attempt repairs yourself.
  6. If you find a propane tank on your property that is not yours, or if your propane tank has become dislodged or is missing, contact your propane retailer or your local fire department immediately.
  7. Never use outdoor propane appliances indoors or in enclosed areas, particularly during a power outage. This can result in carbon monoxide poisoning or death. These include such appliances as outdoor portable heaters, barbecue grills, and portable generators. Only use appliances indoors that are designed and approved for indoor use.
  8. Inspect your propane appliances for water or other damage, if it is safe to do so. If the appliances have electric components and have been exposed to water, they can create a fire hazard. Do not ever turn on a light switch, use any power source, or inspect your household appliances while standing in water. This can result in electrocution.
  9. Schedule a time for a qualified service technician to perform a complete inspection of your propane system if you suspect any of your propane appliances, equipment, or vehicles have been under water or damaged, or you have turned off your gas supply. Never use or operate appliances, equipment, or vehicles, or turn on the gas supply, until your system has been inspected by a qualified service technician. Do not attempt repairs yourself.
  10. Exercise sound judgment. As with any challenging situation, your composure during and after tornadoes and other severe weather events will ensure you don’t take unnecessary risks or pose any additional dangers to your family and home. Stay calm; use radios, television, and telephones to stay informed and connected. If any questions arise, contact your propane retailer or local fire department.

Taking these 10 simple steps can help promote safety all season long. With a little advance planning, you and your family can be prepared for severe weather events such as tornadoes.


At any time

If you smell gas inside or outside of your home:

  1. 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.
  2. LEAVE THE AREA IMMEDIATELY! Get everyone out of the building or area where you suspect gas is leaking.
  3. SHUT OFF THE GAS. 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).
  4. REPORT THE LEAK. From a neighbor’s home or other building away from the gas leak, call your propane retailer right away. If you can’t reach your propane retailer, call 911 or your local fire department.
  5. DO NOT RETURN TO THE BUILDING OR AREA until your propane retailer determines that it is safe to do so.
  6. GET YOUR SYSTEM CHECKED. Before you attempt to use any of your propane appliances, your propane retailer or a qualified service technician must check your entire system to ensure that it is leak-free.

Before

Be prepared for a tornado

  • Know how and where to shut off the outdoor propane supply and indoor propane appliances. For more information, contact your propane retailer.
  • MAKE SURE THAT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY KNOW WHAT PROPANE SMELLS LIKE. Propane has a strong, unpleasant smell like rotten eggs, a skunk’s spray, or a dead animal.
  • NEVER store or place a propane cylinder indoors or in an enclosed area such as a basement, garage, shed, or tent.
  • It is recommended that you consider installing a carbon monoxide (CO) detector listed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) on every level of your home. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding installation, location, and maintenance.
  • Propane gas detectors provide an additional measure of security. It is recommended that you consider installing one or more propane gas detectors listed by UL. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding installation, location, and maintenance.
  • Have a list of instructions on how to turn off electricity, propane, and water. Review suggested preparations for natural disasters such as tornadoes with your propane retailer as well as other utility suppliers. Advise them of any special needs you may have.
  • Create an emergency preparedness plan and review it regularly with your family in order to keep them safe during a potential disaster.

During

What to do if a tornado approaches

Tornadoes can destroy buildings, down trees and power lines, and dislodge propane tanks and equipment. It is essential for you to understand what to do during this type of disaster. Listen to your local authorities, or television and radio stations, for instructions on the appropriate course of action to take. In the event that a tornado threatens your safety:

  • If you are inside a building, go to the lowest level possible such as a basement or a storm cellar. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level.
  • If you are in a mobile home, trailer, or vehicle, get out immediately and seek cover in a sturdy building or storm shelter.
  • If you are outside and shelter is not available, lie flat in a nearby ditch or flat location. Be aware of the potential for flooding.

After

What to do after a tornado

After a tornado has struck, use extreme caution and take the time to carefully evaluate the condition of all the structures on your property. If it is dark, use flashlights, not candles. If you have any doubts about your safety, leave the area immediately and have your property inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before re-entering.

Look carefully around the entire area. Check for downed power lines; they can create major safety hazards. High winds and hail can move, shift, or damage gas lines and tanks. If your propane tank becomes dislodged from its service line, it’s likely to be leaking gas out into the surrounding area. A spark from a fallen power line or other ignition source could pose a danger to anyone nearby. Also, debris and water can find their way inside regulators and controls, causing potential safety issues. Immediately call your local utility company or propane retailer if any of these hazards exist.

If you find a propane tank on your property that is not yours, or if your propane tank has become dislodged or is missing, contact your propane retailer or your local fire department immediately.

Follow these general safety rules

Tornadoes can cause power outages, flooding, or other events requiring you to take additional safety measures. To help reduce the potential for injury or death, there are general safety rules that you should observe at all times:

  • NEVER use outdoor propane appliances indoors or in enclosed areas. This can result in CO poisoning or death. These include outdoor portable heaters, barbecue grills, and portable generators. Only use appliances indoors that are designed and approved for indoor use.
  • NEVER store or place a propane cylinder indoors or in an enclosed area such as a basement, garage, shed, or tent.
  • NEVER use a gas oven or range-top burners to provide space heating.
  • DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES TRY TO MODIFY OR REPAIR VALVES, REGULATORS, OR OTHER APPLIANCE PARTS.
  • NEVER turn on a light switch, use any power source, or inspect your household appliances while standing in water. This can result in electrocution.
  • DO inspect chimneys, flue pipes, and vent connectors for damage, blockage, or debris.
  • DO inspect your propane appliances for water or other damage, if it is safe to do so. If the appliances have electric components and have been exposed to water, they can create a fire hazard.

If you suspect any of your propane appliances, equipment, or vehicles have been under water or they have been damaged, or you have turned off your gas supply:

  • DO schedule a time for a qualified service technician to perform a complete inspection of your propane system. The technician can also perform a leak test on the system and re-light your pilot lights.
  • Do not use or operate appliances, equipment, or vehicles, or turn on the gas supply, until your system has been inspected by a qualified service technician.

For additional information on preparing for tornadoes, other natural disasters, and severe weather conditions, visit usepropane.com or contact your propane retailer.

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