Manitoba

5 propane safety tips in wake of St. Boniface explosion

Propane, while largely considered to be safe, can be dangerous if not handled properly, as seen yesterday with the explosion in St. Boniface.

If you think there's a propane leak, don't hesitate to call 911, says Manitoba Deputy Fire Commissioner

Propane, while largely considered to be safe, can be dangerous if not handled properly, as seen yesterday with the explosion in St. Boniface. 1:51

An explosion in Winnipeg's St. Boniface neighbourhood Monday was caused by a leaking propane tank according to the province's investigation into the incident that left an employee of nearby Ken's Carpets in critical condition. 

Propane, while largely considered to be safe, can be dangerous if not handled properly, Rob Pike, Manitoba's Deputy Fire Commissioner, told CBC's Information Radio Tuesday. 

Pike said there are some simple rules to follow with propane that will keep you safe.

1. Where to store it

Propane tanks should be stored in dry, well-ventilated areas. 
Store propane tanks upright in dry, well-ventilated areas and BBQ season will be a safe one. (CBC)

"Propane is safe, economical and environmentally friendly. It must be handled with care," Pike advises. 

Pike said keeping tanks off the floor is typically better to keep them dry but one should also take precautions to keep the tank from falling. Any place where tanks can be hit, for example by a car, should be avoided. 

2. How to store it

The number one thing is to ensure tanks are upright, Pike said. 

After that, ensure they're in good condition with no dents and no rust. Both will make a tank more likely to leak. 

"If you keep the cap on or keep them plugged, as well as the valve off, you'll be in good shape," Pike said.

Keeping tanks dry keeps away rust. 

3. Take a good whiff

The easiest way to tell if you have a propane leak is by using the sniff test. A foul odour could indicate propane is leaking. 

Pike said on occasion you'll see a little bit of frost or ice build up on a tank that has a leak, but smell is a more reliable indicator.

4. Clear out those empties

The fewer tanks you have, the less likely you'll have a leak, Pike said, so get rid of those empty tanks. Either recycle them or trade them in at appropriate disposal locations. 

5. If you think there is a leak, call 911

If you open a storage unit and suspect there may be a leaking propane tank, keep ventilating the area to disperse the gas and leave the area, Pike said.

Then call 911. 

"Make sure you're not in that environment with it," Pike said. 

It is sometimes helpful to know that propane is heavier than air so it will gather in low-lying areas, he added.

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