July 15, 2019

Summer Propane Safety: From Grilling to Heating Your Pool

For many people, Summer means an increased use in propane usage. This can be from using your grill to barbecue, heating up that pool water with a propane pool heater, or using a propane fireplace pit. No matter what your use, it’s important to make sure you’re following proper propane safety rules.

Grill Safety

Grilling your dinner is a staple during the warmer months, but July is actually the peak month for grill fires. On average 8,800 home fires are started due to grills each year with the main cause being a leak or break in the tank. Here’s some tips to keep you, your family, and your home safe this grilling season.

  • Always use the grill outdoors in a well-ventilated area and avoid using lose clothing while cooking. And have a fire extinguisher close by.
  • Make sure the grill burner controls are turned off and keep the cylinder valve fully closed when not in use and make sure you clean the grill regularly.
  • Make sure the gas grill is shut off and completely cooled before covering it after use.
  • Always use or store cylinders in an upright, vertical position. Be sure to store them outdoors away from sources of ignition (i.e. heat, matches, or lighters). Do not bring cylinders indoors or into an enclosed space such as a garage.
  • Do not smoke while handling the propane cylinder.
  • Do not leave the cylinder in a vehicle.
  • Do not allow children to tamper or play with the cylinder or grill.
  • Do not use, store, or transport a cylinder where it could be exposed to high temperatures (this includes storing spare cylinders under or near the grill).

Pool Heater Safety

One of the most enjoyable things about Summer is swimming, especially in water that’s the perfect temperature. Over 900,000 pools in the U.S. are heated with gas heaters, and while they make your pool much more enjoyable and extend your season, it’s important to understand how dangerous they can be if not installed or maintained properly.

  • Make sure your pool heater is properly ventilated. Just like a car engine, gas pool heaters cause carbon monoxide poisoning if inhaled for too long. Make sure it’s not too close to windows. Check venting regularly to make sure it hasn’t become blocked or broken.
  • Check for blockages in your gas lines. Pool heater gas lines can become blocked with anything from leaves to dead animals, which can cause a variety of ignition problems that lead to flame “roll-out”or even an explosion. Blockage can also cause exhausting issues, which can lead to flames or violent explosions.
  • Watch for leaks at connection sites. Gas is delivered to the heater through a number of connections. All of these connections can develop leaks, which can lead to fire or explosions. If you smell a leak contact your gas supplier immediately for service.
  • Make sure you maintain it. With so many working parts — pipes, igniters, circuit boards — pool heaters need regular care to operate properly and safely. They’re also complicated enough that homeowners shouldn’t try to service them on their own. If you have a regular pool service, make sure the heater is being checked. If not, it’s a good idea to have it checked annually.

Fire Pits

Outdoor fire pits used to be just your traditional wood burning systems, but many people have upgraded both for the look and the convenience of using a propane system. It’s cleaner, requires less work to cut and gather (or buy) wood, and it’s instant, no need to wait for the fire to get started from your kindling. But just like using a grill, there are safety requirements to using these systems.

  • Make sure your propane fire pit is at least 10 feet away from your home and other outdoor structures. Keep foliage and trees a safe distance away from the fire pit.
  • Always keep a fire extinguisher handy. Before using the propane fire pit, know how to turn off the gas supply and control a fire that gets out of hand.
  • Don’t use the fire pit in areas that have a lot of clutter. Objects close to the fire pit increase the chances of ignition and flames. Keep the area around the fire pit clean and clear at all times.
  • Keep burners and pipes cleans. A blocked or dirty burner or pipe can cause a buildup of gas, which can be very dangerous. You must clean these parts especially if you are using the fire pit after a gap of several months. Be on the lookout for insects which can cause a blockage.
  • Before turning on the propane fire pit, rule out any leaks. Check all the connections and valves for any signs of a leak. If you discover one, turn off the gas supply immediately and tighten the connections.
  • Never add any accelerant or paper to the fire. A propane fire pit does not require any starters or accelerators to increase the strength of the flame. Never pour gasoline into the fire pit or add paper, trash or combustible matter.

If you have any propane safety questions, we’re happy to help. As your neighbors for almost a century, we want to make sure everyone has a happy and safe Summer!

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