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Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and toxic gas. Smoking a cigarette, operating a gasoline engine, and burning fuel oil, wood, kerosene, natural gas and propane all produce CO. High levels of CO can be produced when fuels are not completely burned.

Where Do High Levels of CO Come From? High levels of CO can be generated by appliances that are defective, improperly installed or maintained. CO can also enter a home if an appliance vent system or chimney becomes blocked.

CO Can Be Deadly! High levels of CO can make you dizzy, give you headaches, or cause flu-like symptoms (see list below). In extreme cases, high levels of or extended exposure to CO can result in brain damage or death. Young children, the elderly, people with heart disease, and those under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication are particularly susceptible to CO poisoning.

Symptoms of CO poisoning include:

  1. Headache
  2. Dizziness
  3. Fatigue
  4. Shortness of breath
  5. Nausea

If You Suspect that CO is Present, Act Immediately!
If you or a family member shows physical symptoms of CO poisoning, get everyone out of the building and call 911 or your local fire department.

If it is safe to do so, open windows to allow entry of fresh air, and turn off any appliances you suspect may be releasing the CO.

If no one has physical symptoms of CO poisoning, but you suspect that CO is present, call a qualified service technician to check CO levels and your propane appliances.

To Reduce the Risk of CO Poisoning:

  1. Have a qualified service technician check your propane appliances and venting systems annually, preferably before the heating season begins.
  2. Consider installing a UL-listed CO detector on every level of your home.
  3. Never use a gas oven or range-top burners to provide space heating.
  4. Never use portable heaters indoors, unless they are designed and approved for indoor use.
  5. Never use a barbecue grill (propane or charcoal) indoors for cooking or heating.
  6. Regularly check your appliance exhaust vents for blockage.

Some Signs of Improper Appliance Operation That Can Generate High CO Levels:

Sooting, especially on appliances and vents.

Unfamiliar or burning odor.

Increased moisture inside of windows.

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Odor Fade

Odor fade can diminish propane's smell. Odor fade is an unintended reduction in the concentration of the odor of propane, making it more difficult to smell. Although rare, several situations can cause odor fade:

  • Air, water, or rust in a propane tank or cylinder can reduce propane odor concentration.

  • If propane leaks underground, its passage through soil may reduce the smell of propane.

  • Propane odor can stick to inside surfaces of gas piping and gas system components.

  • Since there is a possibility of odor fade or problems with your sense of smell, you should respond immediately to even a faint odor of gas.

IF YOU ARE CONCERNED that you or others in your home may have difficulty smelling propane, consider buying one or more propane gas detectors.

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Propane Gas Detectors

Propane gas detectors are designed to sound an alarm if they sense the presence of propane. Their operation does not depend on the concentration of odorant in the air, just the propane concentration at the detector.

We recommend that you consider installing one or more propane gas detectors. This is important if you or others in your home have difficulty smelling propane, or if appliances are in little-used areas of your home where the smell of propane might not be detected. Detectors can provide an additional measure of security.

Detector quality is important. Be sure the units you buy are listed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). To be sure propane gas detectors operate properly, install and maintain them as the manufacturer recommends.

Trust your nose. Never ignore the smell of propane, even if no detector is sounding an alarm to signal the presence of propane. However, if a detector is sounding an alarm, treat it as an emergency and act immediately, even if you do not smell the propane.

Check your propane system. Even if you install gas detectors, ask 1st Propane® to inspect your entire propane distribution system periodically.
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Running Out of Gas

What Happens If Your Tank Runs Out-of-Gas?

If your propane tank runs completely out of gas, an "Interruption in Gas Service" occurs in your propane gas distribution system. This usually means there is not enough gas pressure in the system to properly operate your appliances.

If this happens, Government regulations and 1st Propane® safety policies require us to conduct an inspection and leak test of your gas system before we can restore your gas service. You must be home and permit us to inspect your complete gas system (including your gas appliances), perform the leak test and relight pilot lights.

If you are a "Will Call" customer ( one who calls for a delivery when your propane tank needs refilling) and your propane tank runs out of gas, before we can refill it you are subject to a service charge for restoring your gas service, however, if you are signed up on our "Worry-Free" service, you would not be charged for the service call to restore your gas service.

If you smell gas:

  • Do not hang up the phone or operate any electrical devices.
  • Get all occupants out of the house immediately.
  • Go to your propane tank and turn off the main gas service valve.
  • Go to a neighbor's house and call 911 to report a gas leak.
  • After calling 911, call your propane supplier.


If an appliance valve or a gas line is left open when the propane supply runs out, a leak could occur when the system is recharged with propane.

Air and moisture could get into an empty or depleted storage tank, which can cause rust build-up inside the tank. Rust can decrease the concentration of the odor of propane, making it harder to smell.

If your propane tank runs out of gas, pilot lights on your appliances will go out. This can be extremely dangerous if not handled properly.

SET UP REGULAR DELIVERY. Tell 1st Propane that you want to sign up for our “Worry Free” service. Also, periodically check the liquid level gauge on your propane tank. When the liquid level drops below 30%, call 1st Propane® to schedule a delivery.
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Lighting Pilot Lights


WHAT IS A PILOT LIGHT? Many propane appliances may have a pilot light – a small, constantly burning flame inside the appliance. (Appliances without a pilot light often have electronic ignition instead.) If your appliance has a pilot light, it is an important safety feature. The pilot light ignites the main burner when needed.

WHEN A PILOT LIGHT GOES OUT. A pilot light that repeatedly goes out – or is very difficult to light – may be signaling that there is a problem with the appliance or with your propane system. If this occurs, do not try to fix the problem yourself. Contact a qualified appliance service technician to evaluate the appliance problem. Accidents and serious injuries can occur when customers attempt to fix a pilot light problem on their own.


Carefully follow all of the manufacturer's instructions and warnings convering the appliance.

  • If the appliance is in a basement or closed room, thoroughly ventilate the area before lighting the pilot.
  • Do NOT smoke or have any source of ignition (such as open flames or spark-producing materials) in the area before lighting the pilot.
  • Be especially alert for the smell of propane. Sniff at floor level before lighting a pilot.
  • DO NOT allow any extra or unnecessary people (especially children) to remain in the room or area of the building where you are lighting a pilot.
  • DO NOT try to light pilot lights in any area where other odors may make it difficult for you to detect the smell of a propane leak.
  • DO NOT apply force or use tools on the pilot light or its control. This could cause damage that leads to gas leakage. Use only your hands to operate knobs, switches, or buttons.
  • DO NOT attempt to let air out of gas lines by opening a valve or fitting inside a building or enclosed space. You may release gas and not be able to smell it.
  • DO NOT apply oil to a sticky knob or button on a gas control valve. Oil can cause the control valve mechanism to stick and malfunction.

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Appliance Maintenance

As a general company policy, 1st Propane® does not sell, install, service, maintain or repair propane gas appliances, however 1st Propane® may be able to refer you to a qualified appliance service technician or company operating in your area. Contact 1st Propane® for additional information.

MAINTENANCE IS IMPORTANT. All appliances using propane must be properly maintained in order to operate safely, properly, and efficiently.

LEAVE IT TO THE EXPERTS. Only a qualified appliance service technician has the proper training to install, service, maintain, and repair your appliances. Make sure you have a qualified appliance service technician install and service your appliances.

ANNUAL INSPECTION IS IMPORTANT. Contact a qualified appliance service technician to perform an appliance inspection.

BE SURE YOUR APPLIANCES CAN "BREATHE" PROPERLY. Regularly check the vents of your appliances to be sure the flue gases can flow easily to the outdoors, insects, birds, and small animals sometimes build nests in vent pipes. Other obstructions such as snow or ice may also occur. If you see evidence of this, call a qualified service appliance service technician. Also, clear the area around your appliance to be sure plenty of air can reach the burner for proper combustion.

NEVER store combustible materials near appliances.

WATCH FOR YELLOW FLAMES OR SOOT BUILD-UP. When appliances are operating properly, propane burns with a blue flame. If you see yellow flames, or notice significant amounts of soot on any equipment, the gas may not be burning completely. This can create carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless, and poisonous gas. Contact a qualified appliance service technician if any of the above conditions occur.

PROPERLY MAINTAIN CONNECTORS. The final section of the propane gas distribution system that brings the gas into your appliances is the appliance connector. It is important that all appliance connectors are properly inspected, installed, and maintained by a qualified appliance service technician.

HAVE CONNECTORS CHECKED WHEN MOVING OR REPLACING APPLIANCES. Connectors can wear out from too much moving, bending, or corrosion. Connectors should be checked whenever an appliance is replaced or moved from its location.

USE ONLY APPROVED APPLIANCE CONNECTORS. Make sure that all appliance connectors, gas piping and tubing installed inside your house that brings propane to your appliances are installed by a qualified service technician and approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

HAVE OLDER APPLIANCE CONNECTORS INSPECTED. Over time, some types of appliance connectors can crack or break, resulting in a serious gas leak and the possibility of fire or explosion. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has warned that certain types of older connectors are extremely dangerous. If you have an appliance that is more than 20 years old, have a qualified service technician inspect the connectors to be sure they are safe and meet current safety code requirements.

DO NOT MOVE AN APPIANCE YOURSELF to check the connector; this might damage the connector and create a leak.

TREAT CONNECTORS WITH CARE. When an appliance is moved, be careful not to damage the appliance connector (the flexible tubing that brings gas to the appliance). Older connectors can crack if flexed or twisted, which can lead to a gas leak.

IS THE APPLIANCE DESIGNED TO USE PROPANE? Be sure that any new or used appliance being installed is designed for use with propane. Natural gas appliances SHOULD NOT be used with propane unless a qualified appliance service technician has made adjustments and orifice conversions to the appliance.

HAVE THE APPLIANCE CHECKED OUT BEFORE YOU USE IT. Be sure the appliance is properly installed and all controls and valves operate correctly. Contact a qualified service technician for assistance.

CAP OR PLUG UNATTACHED GAS LINES. If you move a gas appliance and disconnect it from a gas line, be sure to contact 1st Propane® or a qualified service technician to close, cap, or plug the open gas line. Any connectors or gas line not connected to an appliance can leak gas, or can be damaged if water accumulates inside it. The valve on any unattached gas line must be closed, and the open end must be sealed by installing a threaded cap or plug.

DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES modify or repair valves, regulators, connectors, controls, appliance or cylinder/tank parts. Doing so voids manufacturer’s warranties, is extremely dangerous and creates the risk of a gas leak.

CALL AN EXPERT. If you are unable to operate any part of your propane system, or if you think an appliance or other device is not operating properly, call 1st Propane® or a qualified appliance service technician. They can inspect, adjust, repair, or replace any part of your propane system.

YOUR PROPANE DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM IS DESIGNED FOR SAFETY. Propane cylinders, tanks and appliances incorporate special components (such as regulators, valves, connectors, controls, burners, and pilot lights) for safe use. Damaging these components can cause gas leaks.

FLAMMABLE VAPORS ARE A SERIOUS SAFETY HAZARD! Vapors from flammable products such as gasoline, kerosene, paint thinner, and solvents can be ignited accidentally by the pilot light of a propane appliance. Flammable vapors are often heavier than air and may travel along the ground and collect in low or confined areas (such as a basement or pit). Sometimes the vapors may follow air currents in the building to higher levels. Any source of ignition in these areas (such as a pilot light, spark, heater element, or electric motor) could cause an explosion or a fire.


  • Store flammable liquids in well-sealed containers outside.
  • Do not use gasoline, cleaning fluids, oil-soaked rags, or other flammable liquids inside a building where propane appliances are located.

PROPANE VAPORS CAN BE DANGEROUS: Propane vapor is combustible and can ignite explosively. Keep propane storage containers closed. Never store propane cylinders in an enclosed area, or near a heat or ignition source.
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Closing Up a House

If you are leaving home for an extended period, consider closing all propane supply valves. This includes the main gas supply valve on the propane tank as well as gas supply valves located near individual appliances.

WHEN YOU RETURN home after an extended absence, contact 1st Propane® or a qualified service technician before the propane is turned onto conduct a leak check and to re-light the pilot lights.
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Weather Related Emergencies

PROTECT YOUR PROPANE SYSTEM IF THE WEATHER TURNS BAD. Before, during, or after severe weather, you may need to take specific action to ensure the continued safe operation of your propane system.

WATER CAN DAMAGE YOUR PROPANE SYSTEM: If flooding is predicted for your area, turn off the main gas service valve at the cylinder or tank BEFORE the water rises. Do not turn the gas back on until the gas system and all appliances have been checked by a qualified service technician. AFTER A FLOOD, contact a qualified service technician to check your propane system and appliances. A service technician will likely have to do some or all of the following:

  • Replace the regulator and/or pressure relief valves if there are signs of water, dirt, debris, or corrosion.
  • Replace the automatic controls and appliance regulators on any gas appliances that have been under water.
  • Inspect and (if necessary) replace manual shut-off valves in gas piping, and perform tank testing of the system.
  • Clean appliance main and pilot burners and replace pilot orifices.

CLEAR THE SNOW: You should clear heavy snow and ice from regulators, regulator vents, piping, tubing, and valves. Failure to do so can cause damage that could result in a gas leak. Appliance vents, chimneys, and flues must be kept clear of snow and ice so appliances can vent properly. This is especially critical on the roofs of mobile homes. Clear snow carefully. Use a broom rather than a shovel to avoid damaging any components. Also, clear the walkway and tank area so that 1st Propane® has ready access to your tank.

WHAT IF SOMETHING DOESN'T LOOK RIGHT AFTER A STORM? If your tank has shifted position; gas lines are bent, broken, or damaged; or you see something else unusual about your system or appliance, turn off the main gas service valve on your propane tank, if it is safe to do so. Then contact 1st Propane® or a qualified service technician.
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Using Space Heaters Safely

USE THE RIGHT KIND OF HEATER. Some propane space heaters are designed only for use outdoors. Others are designed only for use indoors. Check your owner’s manual or contact a qualified service technician to be sure you are using the right kind of heater.

DO NOT USE AN OUTDOOR HEATER INDOORS. High levels of CO can be generated from heaters that are not designed for indoor use.

READ YOUR SPACE HEATER MANUAL. The appliance manufacturer’s manual that came with your space heater tells how to set up and operate it safely. Read the entire manual and carefully follow all directions.
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Small Propane Cylinder Safety

You may occasionally use small propane cylinders to operate barbecue grills and other outdoor appliances. If so, be sure to follow these basic safety tips:


  • NEVER store or place a propane cylinder indoors or in an enclosed area such as a basement, garage, shed, or tent.
  • NEVER store or place a propane cylinder in an area of excessive heat (120 degrees or higher) or near a stove, fireplace, or other heat source. The heat builds up pressure inside the cylinder, which may cause the pressure relief valve to release propane. Flash fires or explosions can result from exposing cylinder to heat.
  • NEVER store or place a spare cylinder under or near a barbecue grill.
  • DO NOT smoke or have any ignition sources such as flames or spark producing electrical tools in the area while handling or transporting cylinders.


  • ALWAYS transport and store a cylinder in a secure and upright position so it will not fall, shift, or roll.
  • ALWAYS close the cylinder valve and, if required, seal with a plug, even if the cylinder is empty.
  • NEVER keep a filled cylinder inside a hot vehicle or transport it inside a closed trunk.
  • ALWAYS place the cylinder in a well-ventilated area of the vehicle.
  • ALWAYS proceed directly to your destination and immediately remove the cylinder from your vehicle.

The law places limits on the number of cylinders and the amount of propane that can be transported in closed-bodied vehicles such as passenger cars and vans. Ask 1st Propane® about state and local codes that apply to you.

Propane cylinders incorporate special components such as valves, connectors, and other parts to keep them safe for use with grills and other propane appliances. Damage to any component can cause a gas leak. DON’T RISK IT! Call 1st Propane® or a qualified service technician for assistance.



An OPD is a safety feature that helps prevent small propane cylinders from being overfilled. An overfilled cylinder doesn't have enough space left if the liquid expands when exposed to warmer temperatures. This can cause an increase in cylinder pressure and create potentially hazardous conditions.

Most cylinders with OPDs have special triangular hand wheels with the letters "OPD" on them. In many states, cylinders without OPDs cannot be refilled. Ask 1st Propane® if you are uncertain as to whether your cylinder has an OPD valve.

NEVER use a damaged cylinder or one that has been in a fire. All cylinders must be inspected before they are refilled. The law requires periodic inspection of cylinders, and it is against the law to refill out-of-date cylinders. The last inspection date is stamped on the cylinder.

NEVER dispose of your propane cylinder by throwing it in the trash. Check to see if there are municipal programs for collection in your area, or contact your propane retailer for guidance on disposal of the cylinder.
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Safety Checklist


PROPANE SMELL: Teach everyone in your home or building what propane smells like. Request a “"Scratch-and-Sniff" brochure from 1st Propane®. The odor of the"“Scratch-and-Sniff” is similar to the odor of propane. Always take immediate action if you smell any kind of foul odor.

EMERGENCY PROCEDURES: Learn what to do in the event that you smell gas, and about the dangers that carbon monoxide can pose.

FLAMMABLE MATERIALS: Move any flammable and combustible materials (such as paper, clothing, wood, gasoline, and solvents) away from any propane appliances.

LEARN ABOUT YOUR PROPANE SYSTEM: Request a visit from 1st Propane® to learn what’s “under the dome” on the top of your propane tank. Identify the shut-off valves, regulators, and safety relief valve, and how they operate.

TALK WITH YOUR CHILDREN: Be sure they understand the following important safety tips:

  1. Take the “Scratch-and-Sniff”test to learn what propane smells like.
  2. If you smell gas, tell an adult right away and then go outside.
  3. Do not turn or play with the knobs or other controls on a stove, oven, water heater, or other appliance.
  4. Do not play around or climb on a propane tank, gas line, appliance, or other parts of the propane system.

ANNUAL SAFETY INSPECTION: Once a year (at the start of the heating season), request 1st Propane® to complete a safety inspection of your propane distribution system and request a qualified appliance service technician to inspect your propane appliances.

MONITOR YOUR TANK LEVEL GAUGE: Customers who choose to monitor their own propane tank levels should check the liquid level gauge on their propane tank periodically. Contact 1st Propane® to schedule a delivery when the propane liquid is above the 30% level.

REPORT OUT OF GAS TANKS: If your propane tank runs completely out of propane, immediately close the main service valve on your propane tank and notify 1st Propane®.

REPORT DAMAGE: Notify 1st Propane® if you notice any major dents, rust, or other damage to your propane tank, distribution system or appliances.

UNCONNECT GAS LINES: Unconnected gas lines must be plugged or capped.

AFTER A STORM: After high winds, heavy rain, or any other weather emergency, check your propane tank and distribution system. If anything appears to have been damaged, contact your propane retailer right away.
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