Propane Heating Safety: Guidelines For Keeping Your Family Safe

Every heating source comes with its dangers. A wood stove increases risk of fire. A gas furnace could mean a gas leak. Similarly, even though propane heating offers a number of great benefits, including cost savings and extended life of your HVAC system, you should learn about the risks and safety precautions you will need to take with this type of heat source. If you follow these guidelines, you should not have to worry about any danger coming to your home and family if you choose propane heating. 

Install A Carbon Monoxide Monitor

CO, or carbon monoxide, binds to your blood cells in place of oxygen. When, this happens, all of the cells in your body are no longer getting the oxygen supply they need to sustain life. Because CO is colorless and does not smell, it is difficult to detect without a monitor. 

Many homeowners already have a CO monitor in their home, because they are highly recommended to improve overall home fire safety. However, if you use propane heating for your household, you will need to be vigilant about making sure that it is working and that it is placed correctly. Burning propane (like burning oil or natural gas) releases carbon monoxide, which is funneled outside of your house, allowing it to dissipate naturally into the environment. If some part of your vents or furnace breaks down or needs to be replaced, a CO detector will help you get your family to safety before anyone is hurt. 

Also, remember to never use portable propane heaters, like those used for camping, indoors. These are not vented like a propane furnace, and will quickly deplete the oxygen supply in your home. 

Learn To Recognize And Respond To Leaks

Propane has a distinct smell, and exists as a gas at room temperature. Like natural gas leaks, propane leaks can be dangerous because they increase the combustibility of the air in which it is dissipated. If you ever smell propane in your home, make sure to get everyone out of the house and to call your heating service to get the leak repaired and the house aired out. If you can, turn off the pilot light in the furnace until the leak is resolved, as this will decrease the chance of fire in the meantime. Turn off or blow out all other open flames and heat sources, including candles or lanterns. 

If someone in your family has been breathing in propane gas for an extended period of time due to a leak, you should also have them checked by a doctor. Extreme amounts of propane can cause propane poisoning. The symptoms of poisoning include difficulty breathing, coughing, burning in the throat, fainting, nausea and weakness. However, you should know that propane dissipates easily into the air, and so injuries from propane poisoning are not common. 

Keep Children Away From Stored Propane

Propane is stored at a high pressure and low temperature as a liquid. It is very cold, and touching liquid propane, or even the hoses that move it to the furnace, can result in severe frostbite. Teach children to stay away from propane tanks. If the tanks are large, discourage climbing or interfering. You can lock several smaller tanks together to prevent anyone from moving them. Do everything you can to prevent tanks from getting punctured or dropped. Usually, home fuel tanks are too heavy to move without a machine, for both safety and practical reasons. 

As you can see, no heating system comes risk free. The best way to enjoy all the benefits of propane is to make sure you keep your system maintained and to be aware and prepared for the dangers. You can learn more here about propane heating.