Avoid risky behavior with propane tanks

Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included.

Some Michigan farmers tamper with their propane tanks hoping to save money, inadvertently putting themselves and their families at risk for property damage, bodily injury or even death. The Michigan Propane Gas Association (MPGA) is sponsoring the Safe Handling of Propane (SHOP) program, which is designed to promote safety when using liquid propane and propane equipment among the Michigan agricultural community and rural consumers.

The MPGA has a history of successful public education programs designed to increase consumer and professional confidence in propane use. The MPGA continues to provide a free, state-certified training program for first responders to prepare them for propane emergencies. The Michigan Association of Fire Chiefs (MAFC) supports MPGA’s efforts to promote the safe handling of propane.
Tampered tanks are dangerous because they can leak, creating the potential for explosions. Propane emergencies are often caused by do-it-yourself repairs on propane systems on the farm or at home. Self-repairs to any part of a propane system can override built-in safety features. At-home alterations of any kind are considered “tampering” and are illegal. The Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code (NFPA-58) regulates residential fuel gas system piping installation, venting and associated equipment for all types of gas fuels, including propane.

Accidents can also occur when homeowners let their propane tanks run dry, or nearly dry. By law – and for consumer safety – when an out-of-gas situation exists or a system has been tampered with, a leak test is required before the system can be restored to normal operation. This is usually done at the expense of the consumer.

Top five risky behaviors of some Michigan farmers:
  1. Using rags, tape and epoxy to stop leaks in gas lines.
  2. Storing propane cylinders inside barns, homes and garages.
  3. Tampering with safety devices so they can overfill portable cylinders.
  4. Connecting portable cylinders to home heating systems.
  5. Leaving propane cylinders in car trunks.
For more information, please contact Joe Ross at 517-333-3133 ext. 4.Information provided by Allan Ross of Michigan Propane Gas Association.

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