Grill safety includes proper propane tank storage

by | May 25, 2016

Most stores offer a cylinder exchange for propane, others have trained employees that will refill the tank for a flat fee.

Some stores offer a cylinder exchange for propane, while others have trained employees who will refill the tank for a flat fee or by the gallon.

The days are getting longer, the weather is warming up and swimming pools are beginning to fill. This means that another favorite summertime activity is heating up, too – it’s grilling season.

Although in some parts of North Carolina, grilling season is year-round, according to the National Fire Protection Association, there are an average of 8,900 home fires caused by grilling, with the peak months being May, June, July and August.

“Many grill masters choose propane to heat up their grills,” said Randy Renfrow, NCDA&CS LP-gas field supervisor. “When transporting propane home it’s important to handle it with care. Propane cylinders should never travel in the front seat of the car or be laid on their side. The tanks have a small valve that releases a small amount of gas when pressure builds up, if the tank is laid on its side then a small amount of liquid comes out instead of gas. Liquid propane expands 270 times into the vapor state, which can cause an explosion. Propane tanks should also never be left in a hot car.”

Consumers can also take steps at home to safely handle propane containers, Renfrow added. Store propane tanks in an upright position at home. Also, check the condition of your grill hoses and for buildup of grease before grilling. If there is a fire, turn off the burners and, if safely possible, close the valve to the propane tank.

Following are a few more tips for filling, transporting and storing propane tanks.

Filling and transporting:

  • Check the date stamped on the propane container; if your container is out of date, do not refill.
  • Before refilling, the attendant should check to make sure that the container has no visible rust or dents, valves close properly and the tank has an overfill protection device.
  • A propane container should be properly stowed in the car. Secure it in the trunk or as far back in the car as possible. Another suggestion is to put a seat belt around the tank for the ride home.
  • A propane container should never be left in a hot car.

Storing at home:

  • Never store a tank indoors or under the house.
  • Keep away from heat or any type of ignition source.
  • Make sure tanks are stored upright. Do not store the tank on its side or upside down.
  • A tank should never be stored under or beside a grill unless it is in use.
  • Keep tanks in an out-of-the-way location, away from children.

The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Standards Division inspects establishments that store, dispense or deliver propane. Inspectors make sure that propane containers are not out-of-date, have an overfill protection device and do not have rust or any visible dents or pits. For more information about propane, check out this online FAQ for consumers.

For more information about grilling safety, check out this video by the National Fire Protection Association.