What You Need to Know About Propane Safety and Floods

Flooding in the Missouri and Mississippi River basins is impacting millions of residents this spring across the Midwest states of South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Minnesota, as well as states including Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

Whether you’re preparing for a flood or waiting for waters to recede, follow these steps to ensure your and your family’s safety if propane is used at your home, farm, or business.

1. Create an emergency preparedness plan and review it with everyone in your family. Have a list of instructions on how to turn off electricity and water, and know how and where to shut off the outdoor propane supply and indoor propane appliances. Consider installing a carbon monoxide (CO) detector on every level of your home, as well as installing one or more propane gas detectors. Make sure 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.

2. In flood zone areas, make sure your above-ground and underground propane tanks are anchored securely.

3. Have an adequate supply of propane in your tank. After a major flood, propane may not be readily available or roads may be inaccessible for deliveries.

4. In the event that a flood threatens your safety, you should shut off the gas. During a major flood, you may have to decide whether or not is is necessary to evacuate. Listen to local authorities for instructions on the appropriate course of action to take. Whether it is determined that you should stay or leave, shut off your gas. First, close the valve to the right (clockwise) to turn off the main gas supply on your propane tank if it is safe to do so. Then, turn off the gas supply valves located near individual indoor appliances. Consult your propane retailer to make sure you know where the actual valves are located and how to shut them off.

5. If you do evacuate, use caution when returning to your home, farm, or business, and leave the area immediately if you have any doubts about your safety. If it is dark, use flashlights, not candles. Check for downed power lines and shifted or damaged gas lines or tanks. 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 local fire department immediately.

6. If your home or business is without heat or power, never use outdoor propane appliances indoors or in enclosed areas. This includes outdoor portable heaters, barbecue grills, and portable generators. It’s also important that you never use a gas oven or range-top burner to provide space heating, and never store or place a propane cylinder indoors or in an enclosed area.

7. Schedule a time for a qualified service technician to perform a complete inspection of your propane system. This will ensure your safety 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 ahead of a flood). 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. Do not ever turn on a light switch, use any power source, or inspect your household appliances while standing in water. Do not under any circumstances try to modify or repair valves, regulators, or other appliance parts.

8. Exercise sound judgment. Stay calm; use radio, television, and telephones to stay informed and connected. If any questions arise, contact your propane retailer or local fire department.

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