Propane is a derivative of two large energy industries - natural gas processing and crude oil refining.
Extracted natural gas is a mixture of several hydrocarbon gases. Methane, sold as “natural gas,” constitutes about ninety percent of this mixture. Of the remaining ten percent, five percent is propane and five percent is a mix of butane, ethane and other gases.
When propane is separated from the natural gas mixture, most is sent through a pipeline system to bulk storage facilities across the nation. What isn’t shipped through the pipeline system is either transported by truck, rail car or barge. Fifty-nine percent of all propane is derived from this process. The remaining forty-one percent comes from crude oil refining.
Many new devices on today’s appliances and equipment make them safer than ever before. New safety features on furnaces, for example, include temperature sensitive shut-off systems. These controls turn off the furnace if a vent becomes blocked. Other types of space heating systems have oxygen depletion sensors that shut off the unit should the oxygen level in the room being heated drop to an unsafe level.
Appliances and equipment designs are certified by nationally recognized independent testing laboratories. Products certified by these organizations are referred to as “listed” products, meaning it is not necessary for appliances and equipment to be checked by local and provincial or federal safety authorities.
A study conducted by the NFPA U.S. Home Heating Fire Patterns and Trends Through 1988 concluded that by a four-to-one margin, the safest way to provide heat is with gas. In fact, there are more fires started each year by faulty electrical wiring than from gas-related accidents. Data compiled by the Fire Underwriters Association shows that gas rates very low as the cause of accidents in insurance claims.
The key to the propane gas industry’s outstanding safety record is the system for adopting standards and certifications. The industry operates under voluntary, self-imposed rules governing safety. Anytime safety needs to be addressed or reexamined, the industry responds quickly and effectively. As a result of these efforts, there are very few federal government standards regulating the use of propane gas.