Two dozen wildfires are ripping across Texas and the state’s Railroad Commission, which handles propane safety, has issued some instructions for folks who use the gas and live on the fire lines. “We urge you to be prepared to protect your family and property,” advised the agency chair, Elizabeth Ames Jones, in this press release.
The two biggies? For homes that are fueled by propane, turn the shut off valve on your tank, if it can safely be done before evacuation. And then before restoring service, have the system checked for leaks.
Here are a few more tips from the Texas RRC. (And have a look at their release here.)
Before a wildfire
Make sure any small propane cylinders are stored outdoors, and check the area around your main propane fuel tank. Clean and clear out vegetation or other items that can burn around the tank. Mow close to the ground, and cut back all growth around tank supports. Trim overhanging trees or shrubs.
Your propane supplier can help by showing you where your service line is buried and how to operate your propane system’s safety features. Have your supplier show you and your family how to turn off the gas at the tank.
Your propane supplier can also put a reflective Railroad Commission tank locator decal on or next to your electric meter or service box. The bright orange decal helps emergency responders find your tank, even if it’s underground or dark outside.
Finally, post emergency phone numbers in an agreed location and make sure all family members know your community’s warning signals and how to tune into your area’s Emergency Broadcast Network.
During a Wildfire
If it is safe to do so, disconnect small propane cylinders from grills or other appliances and move them away from any structures. Shut the cylinders’ service valves by turning them all the way clockwise.
Also, turn off the shut off valve at a propane container if your house is fueled by propane.
In the event of an evacuation, follow emergency workers’ instructions.
After a Wildfire
Propane storage containers exposed to fire need to be inspected and, if necessary, tested and repaired after an emergency. Contact a licensed propane supplier to inspect the container and system and ensure it is safe for use.
Always use caution when re-entering buildings following an evacuation. If you smell gas, do not operate electrical switches, appliances or telephones. These actions could ignite propane vapor. Exit the building quickly and carefully. Go to a neighbor’s phone or use a cell phone outside to call emergency personnel or your propane supplier for help.