Using LPG at home
LPG is what we use to fuel our barbeques or outdoor heaters, and sometimes heat our homes. It burns well and is stored in cylinders or tanks that are easy to transport.
For more advice call The Poisons Centre on 0800 764 766 (0800 POISON).
If a person is not breathing or is unconscious, call 111 immediately.
LPG has risks, so here's some information and advice on how to stay safe when using and storing it.
Know the hazards of LPG
It's important to remember that LPG comes with risks:
- LPG catches fire very easily, and can even explode.
- It is stored in tanks or cylinders that are under extreme pressure. They can explode if they are punctured.
- Breathing in LPG can make you very sick.
- LPG heaters can make a lot of condensation when used indoors, which can be bad for people who are sick or have breathing problems.
- It is very dangerous to inhale the contents of aerosol cans on purpose. Even doing this just once can kill you. Doing this regularly over a long period can cause damage to your brain, nervous system, and other organs. Never ever intentionally inhale aerosol products.
If you think someone is sick from inhaling LPG, call 111 for an ambulance straight away.
Staying safe when using LPG
LPG burns very well – that’s why we use it for heating and cooking. But that means we need to take special care to prevent fires and explosions.
If you use an LPG heater:
- Stand away from the flame when operating the controls.
- Always keep your heater at least one metre away from anything that may catch fire.
- If you have young children, or if there is a lot of foot traffic around your heater, install a safety guard.
- Keep your heater clean so there is no dust on it to catch fire.
Make sure your LPG bottles are safe by:
- checking them regularly to make sure they are in good condition. Inspect all the rubber parts for cracking, and replace anything that looks damaged or worn.
- using the soapy water test. Each time you connect a cylinder, apply soapy water to the connections and turn on the cylinder. If bubbles appear, you have a leak.
- using your nose. LPG smells unpleasant, like rotting vegetables. If you smell that sort of smell, you have a leak.
It is not safe to breath in LPG. You should take care to make sure you and others in your home are protected from breathing LPG. Make sure to:
- Avoid using LPG around children with breathing problems.
- Keep a window slightly open when you are using an LPG heater inside. This will let the LPG gas escape, and make sure the room doesn’t get too damp.
- Keep patio heaters and barbecues outside. It is not safe to use them indoors.
- Use LPG heaters only in large rooms. Don’t use them in small rooms, such as children’s bedrooms or bathrooms.
- Watch young children closely around LPG heaters.
- Turn off LPG bottles at the valve when you are not using them (rather than just turning off the heater or barbeque).
Staying safe when storing LPG
Here are some tips for storing LPG bottles for heating and barbeques.
The smaller LPG bottles used for heaters and BBQs are usually 9 kilograms each, and can often be swapped or filled at petrol stations. These bottles can be dangerous, so:
- only have two in your house at a time. If you live in an apartment building or a flat that’s joined to other flats, you can only have one in your home at a time. This is the law.
- check the bottles regularly to make sure they are in good condition. Inspect all the rubber parts for cracking, and replace anything that looks damaged or worn.
- use the soapy water test. Each time you connect a cylinder, apply soapy water to the connections and turn on the cylinder. If bubbles appear, you have a leak.
- use your nose. LPG smells unpleasant, like rotting vegetables. If you smell that sort of smell, you have a leak.
The larger LPG cylinders use for home heating usually come in ‘twin packs’ of two 45 kilogram cylinders. These are kept outside your home.
- You must be specially trained to fit and swap your LPG cylinders yourself. If you're not trained, leave it to a professional.
- Keep any other LPG bottles far away from your twin pack of LPG. Be aware that you cannot store more than a total of 100 kilograms of LPG unless you have special permission.
- Avoid smoking near your cylinders.
- Be alert to smells or other signs of a gas leak.