Coffee shops, breweries, restaurants, cafes, and even fast food chains are looking for solutions to continue providing outdoor seating this winter while abiding by social distancing guidelines. Though it may appear unconventional for the non-summer months, outdoor propane heaters can provide comfort to customers who want to continue to support their favorite restaurants and local businesses during the pandemic.
Based on city and OSHA qualifications, outdoor propane heaters require safe outdoor storage of cylinders when they are not in use. Permitting requirements may also vary from city to city. These storage guidelines will aid you in proper propane tank storage and propane heater placement this winter.
Appropriate storage, handling, transportation, and examination of cylinders for damages are all vital aspects of propane tank safety:
1. As seen in front of grocery or hardware stores, tanks are typically stored in outdoor cages or cabinets. It is important that cages are placed on flat areas that do not collect water on the ground and are not low lying so that the gas cannot accumulate, causing risk of explosion. Always store far away from any flammable materials or sources of heat. The tanks themselves should be located off the ground in an upright position.
2. Propane tanks with dents to the cylinder body or cracking on rubber tubes should be identified before use, and always ensured that the valve is secured after use. If a valve has been leaking, you will notice the smell of rotten eggs or the sound of hissing. If a tank has been leaking, attempt to shut it off if it can be done safely. If not have people avoid the area and call the fire department. A technician will need to inspect the tank before it should be used again.
3. As a liquified gas, propane may cause cryogenic burns. If the gas comes into contact with the skin, it can cause frostbite. For this reason, always wear personal protective equipment when handling and transporting propane cylinders.
4. When transporting cylinders to and from certain areas, be sure the valve is secure, which can be ensured by purchasing a plug from your gas supplier. As a general rule of thumb, always keep tanks in an upright position.
5. Storing propane tanks outdoors in winter is nothing to be concerned about, as propane will not freeze. However, storing tanks indoors can raise the temperature, causing a fire hazard. In fact, it is preferred that they are stored in cool places.
For obvious reasons, the positioning of outdoor propane heaters also presents the risk of fire hazard, so some basic safety measures should be considered prior to placement and use.
Outdoor propane heaters are typically safer and more effective than fire pits at heating outdoor patios with the ability to emit heat to a further radius rather than immediate surrounding areas. Placement of these heaters depends on a number of factors, mainly cost effectiveness, number of heaters, and safety.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Outdoor spaces should have heaters strategically spaced in order not to emit too much heat. This placement must be calculated by how many BTUs are burned, multiplied by the number of cubic feet of the patio, by the number of degrees the temperature is being raised (usually around 70 degrees).
2. Never place heaters near a designated smoking section and keep at least three feet from tents and buildings or other flammable materials.
3. Businesses with outdoor propane heaters are required to have fire extinguishers, so ensure that they are easily accessible.
With ever-changing restrictions and decreased restaurant capacities, outdoor propane heaters can keep guests comfortable this winter, and with these measures, safe.
At Rocky Mountain Air, we are dedicated to helping our restaurant customers keep their doors open this winter. If you are a restaurant customer who is planning on using propane heaters to retain outdoor seating over the winter, you can schedule an on-site evaluation with us to take are of permitting, cage-installation, and ongoing tank rentals and refills. We are geared up and ready to help you in this process, so please give us a call at (303) 777-6671 if you have any questions. We look forward to serving you!