Smoke inhalation is a well-known killer. However, just as deadly is Carbon Monoxide (CO). There are some basic facts and tips that just might save your, or a loved-one’s life:
Smoke Detectors: Generally, place one on each floor, centrally located and up high and one in each bedroom.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) and CO Detectors:
Carbon Monoxide is a deadly, colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. It is produced by the incomplete burning of various fuels, including propane, wood, charcoal, oil, gasoline and natural gas. Make sure all flame producing appliances are properly vented to the outside. Most common symptoms of CO poisoning are dizziness and headaches.
Do not install CO detectors within 15 feet of cooking or heating appliances or near bathrooms. Installing near bedrooms is best.
Safety Note: With the colder months approaching here in Cuenca, be sure to have adequate ventilation when using those propane gas space heaters.
Gas (aka Propane) Detectors: Installing a household gas detector is simple and can greatly reduce the risk of having a gas explosion in your home. Propane has a slightly higher specific gravity than air so it tends to sink in still air. Gas detectors plug directly into the wall. Propane also has an added odor therefore making your nose a built in detector, so use it. When gas is detected, the alarm will sound.
Many residential dwellings here in Cuenca are not equipped with any type of detectors. Most of the newer condos and apartments may have the combo smoke/carbon monoxide detectors but the gas detectors are usually overlooked.
Propane Safety: Coming from a country, (in my case the U.S.A.) where natural gas is magically pumped into your house via approved piping, meters and safety valves, it took me a little while to get used to the idea of having old beat up propane tanks in and around the house.
In 2014 the Cuenca Fire Department responded to 238 life threatening propane gas related emergencies. This number may seem low but keep in mind that the majority of propane gas incidents are not reported.
Make sure all hoses are pushed onto the regulator stem as much as possible and hose clamps are securely tightened. Don’t forget to check the connection on the other end, whether it be a stove, heater or califon water heater.
Use the correct hose for gas appliances. The Cuenca Fire Prevention Office recommends using only the yellow hose which is imprinted with ‘Industrial Usage’ and rated between 200 to 400 psi.
Purchase top quality regulators, (regulators are attached to the top of the tank)
Gas tanks should be kept outside or in a well ventilated area away from ignition sources, such as cooking appliances and calefons.
Worn rubber valve rings on the tanks are the #1 cause for leaks. The valve ring is a small, thick, black rubber ring inside of the tank valve where the regulator attaches. Over time and multiple tanks, these gaskets wear down and leaks occur. These rings can be pulled out with a small nail and turned over but best to install a new gasket or just call your propane delivery guy for a tank exchange.
Steps to take if you notice a propane gas leak.
Do not turn on any light switches or appliances.
Immediately have everyone go outside
If possible, quickly identify the leak, turn off or disconnect the gas source.
Open a few doors and windows to allow for cross ventilation.
To locate a minor leak spray a 50/50 water soap mixture onto connection areas or hose. Bubbles should appear at the location of the leak.
If you feel there is still a potential dangerous environment, don’t hesitate. I recommend calling the Cuenca Fire Department at 911.
All three detectors including combination CO/Gas detectors are available at the larger home supply stores in Cuenca. I recommend buying detectors tested by UL.
Safety Note…Don’t forget the fire extinguisher. The multipurpose ABC type is best. Mount in a visible, accessible location in the kitchen away from cooking appliances.
Safety Doesn’t Happen By Accident