Overall, propane is a safe gas. Stored as a liquid in a large tank on your property, propane poses no safety threat if rules and regulations are complied with and if your propane system is maintained properly and inspected regularly (experts recommend a yearly inspection before the heating season).
Carbon monoxide intoxication
Propane monoxide poisoning is the cause of just under a quarter of all propane-related deaths. It is released when appliances are not functioning properly – that is, when the propane/air mix required for ideal combustion is suboptimal.
Carbon monoxide is a deadly substance. Although symptoms start with headaches or dizziness, carbon monoxide intoxication can lead to the loss of consciousness, a coma or even death. This is why it is paramount to have your appliances inspected regularly and to entrust a qualified service technician with their maintenance.
Carbon monoxide alarms
Detecting the presence of carbon monoxide in a room rests on noticing carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms (e.g. light-headedness), plants wilting, soot collecting on appliances or moisture on the inside of windows.
Alternatively, most propane companies advise their customers to have a carbon monoxide detector installed on every level of their house. This is a legal requirement in some states (e.g., Colorado). Carbon monoxide detectors are small devices that are directly plugged into an electricity socket (or battery-powered) and sound an alarm if the level of carbon monoxide increases beyond a certain point.
Carbon monoxide detector specifications
Carbon monoxide detectors range from $15 to $60 and are easily bought in stores or on the Internet. If you move into a propane-fuelled home, you might ask propane companies you are considering whether they sell carbon monoxide detectors – it is always simpler to have a single number for delivery, tank, maintenance and safety issues.
Carbon monoxide detector advice
If you buy and install a carbon monoxide detector yourself, you should carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions as to where to place it, how to install it and when to change it. Ensure you purchase your carbon monoxide detector from a list approved by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), which is one the United States’ nationally recognized testing laboratories.