Storing and using portable propane tanks safely

Portable propane tanks need to be stored and used properly. Ensure valves are locked in place when heating with propane. Use a CO2 detector to detect leaks. 

Photo of hand turning valve at top of portable propane tank

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I just moved my propane tank after reading this Propane Safety reminder from FortisBC. I’ve had a propane barbecue for years and lately I’ve been using it as fuel for our gas fire bowl.

Before I moved the tank, it was a bit too close to an outside power outlet, according to the following advice from FortisBC.

“If you have a portable propane tank, we strongly recommend storing it at least three metres away from electrical sources at all times. Propane is a relatively dense gas, so any potential discharge is likely to settle near the tank – so leaks too close to electrical sources, including an electric meter or exterior outlet, pose a fire risk.​”

As you probably know, propane smells a bit like rotten eggs. Manufacturers add this smell so you know if it’s leaking.

“If you suspect a leak, turn off the supply of propane at the cylinder and leave the area immediately. Do not turn light switches or flashlights on or off, or operate phones,” reads this advice from the Canada Safety Council in Fuel For Summer Activities. “Once you are well away from the area, phone your service supplier. If you suspect your gas barbecue is leaking or smell an odour shut off the cylinder and do not light the grill.”

Using propane safely for heating

Other people use propane for heating. In my post Using heaters safely in the cold, I wrote about a carbon monoxide poisoning at a construction site. When a propane valve was not locked into place properly, the flow pressure dropped too low, which put higher than normal amounts of carbon monoxide into the heater’s exhaust gases.

Thankfully they survived, but many others don’t. The Canada Safety Council reports that CO exposure is the country’s leading cause of fatal poisonings.

“Any indoor workplace where engines are running presents a potential hazard. Workers must realize that fuel-powered machines can expose them to this deadly gas,” says the CSC on their website.

One way to protect yourself – at work or at home – is ensuring your carbon monoxide detector is working. Read more about this in my post When did you last check your carbon monoxide detector?


4 thoughts on “Storing and using portable propane tanks safely

  1. Don Connors

    Where would you store propane tanks the 1 LB type
    when not in use- would a metal flammables cabinet work well?

    1. Tony Wass

      I strongly suggest you DO NOT store them in your home.
      Two of the 1 lb bottles for my camping equipment were stored in our utility room.
      I found at least one of them was leaking very slowly .
      Now all of these bottles have been banished to an outside shed, that is well ventilated.


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