March 24, 2002
Safer Propane Tank for Barbecue
Grills Helps to Avoid Gas Leaks
Device Expected to Prevent Many of the 600
Fires/Explosions Each Year
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) wants consumers to know
that as of April 1, 2002, all propane gas tanks sold to consumers for
barbecue grills must have a new safety device. The over-fill prevention
device will help to avoid propane leaks that can cause fires and explosions.
The new standard is published by the National Fire Protection Association.
"CPSC worked with industry to develop this safety standard to help prevent
deaths and injuries," said CPSC Acting Chairman Thomas Moore. "As people
trade in their old propane tanks for newer ones, we will see fewer fires."
Propane gas is highly flammable. Each year, about 600 fires/explosions occur
with gas grills resulting in injuries to about 30 people. The new safety
standard for propane gas tanks requires that an "over-fill prevention
device" be installed in new gas tanks. The new propane gas tanks have valve
handles with three "lobes" (prongs) while older tanks have valve handles
with five prongs. Beginning April 1, only the new propane tanks will be sold
or refilled nationwide. People with older propane gas tanks will need to get
the new, safer tanks when they go in for a refill. While some dealers are
trading in old tanks at no cost, others may charge a fee, which could range
from $10 to $20.
An additional industry standard (adopted in 1995 at the urging of CPSC)
provided for several safety features in the gas grills, hoses, and
connections. The safety standard calls for a device to limit the flow of gas
if the hose ruptures; a mechanism to shut-off the grill if it overheats; and
a device to prevent the flow of gas if the connection between tank and grill
is not leak-proof. People who have grills that do not meet the 1995 standard
should either get a new grill or be especially attentive to the safety tips
Here are some safety tips to reduce the risk of fire or explosion with gas
Check grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes, and leaks. Make sure
there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing.
Move gas hoses as far away as possible from hot surfaces and dripping hot
Always keep propane gas containers upright.
Never store a spare gas container under or near the grill or indoors.
Never store or use flammable liquids, like gasoline, near the grill.
Never keep a filled container in a hot car or car trunk. Heat will cause the
gas pressure to increase, which may open the relief valve and allow gas to
Make sure your spark ignitor is consistently generating a spark to create a
flame and burn the propane gas. If the flame is not visible, the
heavier-than-air propane gas may be escaping and could explode.
Never bring the propane tank into the house.
Charcoal Grill Safety Tips
Charcoal produces carbon monoxide (CO) when it is burned. CO is a colorless,
odorless gas that can accumulate to toxic levels in closed environments.
Each year about 17 people die as a result of CO fumes from charcoal being
burned inside. To reduce the risk of CO poisoning:
Never burn charcoal inside of homes, vehicles, tents, or campers.
Charcoal should never be used indoors, even if ventilation is provided.
Since charcoal produces CO fumes until the charcoal is completely
extinguished, do not store the grill indoors with freshly used coals.
In 1996, CPSC revised the label on charcoal packaging to more explicitly
warn consumers of the deadly CO gas that is released when charcoal is burned
in a closed environment. The new label reads, "WARNING ... CARBON MONOXIDE
HAZARD ... Burning charcoal inside can kill you. It gives off carbon
monoxide, which has no odor. NEVER burn charcoal inside homes, vehicles or
tents." The new label also conveys the written warning visually with
drawings of grills inside a home, tent, and vehicle. The drawings are
enclosed in a circle with an "X" through it.