Stay Safe While Staying Warm This Winter

Important Tips for Homeowners on the Safe Storage and Use of Propane Cylinders and Space Heaters


January 26, 2001

Washington, DC - Record cold, power interruptions and soaring energy costs are making it difficult for consumers to keep their homes comfortable this winter. To ensure homeowner and community safety throughout the remainder of the winter, the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) and the Propane Education & Research Council (the Council) are committed to educating consumers about the safe use and storage of propane appliances and cylinders.

NPGA and the Council have developed several important tips to remind homeowners how to store cylinders and use their propane appliances, such as space heaters, safely and efficiently.

Propane Cylinders
The following are some cylinder do's and don'ts

  • Never use or store a propane cylinder in your home or any other enclosed space, such as a garage.
  • When transporting a cylinder or when it is not in use, keep it secure in an upright position with the cylinder valve turned off.
  • Make sure to read the warning labels attached to the cylinder.
  • Don't use, store or transport propane cylinders where they can be exposed to high temperatures because the pressure relief valve may open, allowing a large amount of flammable gas to escape.

Space Heaters
Gas-fueled space heaters offer homeowners high energy efficiency and fuel savings, providing warmth to specific areas, and allowing unused spaces to be kept at lower temperatures. Typically, homeowners use two types of space heaters ¾ direct-vent, units requiring outside air to support combustion, and vent-free space heaters, units that rely on inside air to support combustion and vent directly in the room. For optimal heat and efficiency this winter, homeowners should follow these do's and don'ts:

Use only heaters intended for home heating; check manufacturer's instructions for intended use.
For both types of space heaters, it is essential that the space above and around the unit be free from any combustible materials, such as draperies or plastics. Double-check your manufacturer's instructions for clearance distances, which vary widely depending on the type of unit.
Keep space heaters running in proper shape by scheduling a periodic check-up.
Always have your space heater inspected by a qualified professional if it has been subjected to flooding or water damage.

Make sure the room or space the heater is installed in is large enough to provide sufficient combustion air. This is especially important for vent-free heaters. Check the manufacturer's instructions for guidance.

Finally, homeowners are reminded to use their appliances in accordance with manufacturers' recommendations. This includes scheduling periodic inspections, maintaining proper clearances above and around appliances, and contacting only qualified service personnel to perform any repairs.

For added security, consumers may want to consider purchasing a propane-powered back-up generator to automatically turn on when the normal flow of electricity is interrupted. These units can provide temporary power to all pre-designated equipment, such as a furnace, sump pump, or even lights. (If you use a portable generator, be sure to disconnect your home wiring from the power supply, as the generator can be damaged if power is restored with it running.)

"The propane industry is committed to providing homeowners with important safety tips to help propane consumers enjoy the comfort and convenience of their propane appliances," says NPGA Executive Vice President and General Manager Daniel N. Myers. "This winter has been particularly harsh and it's not over yet. Taking a few moments to review important safety information can ensure your family's comfort and safety."

NPGA is the national trade association for the U.S. propane gas industry. With a membership of nearly 3,700 in all 50 states, 38 affiliated state or regional associations, and members in 28 foreign countries, NPGA represents every segment of the propane industry. More than 90 percent of the United States' propane supply is produced domestically, and 60 million Americans choose Propane. Exceptional Energy as their energy source. For more information call (630) 515-0600 or visit the Web site at

The Propane Education & Research Council was authorized by the U.S. Congress with the passage of the Public Law 104-284, the Propane Education and Research Act (PERA), signed into law on October 11, 1996. The mission of the Council is to promote the safe, efficient use of odorized propane gas as a preferred energy source through investments in research, safety, and consumer education initiatives.

For more information about the Council, please call 202-452-8975 or visit the Web site at