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Officials stress safety after Willis home explosion

In the wake of last week’s home explosion in Willis, many Montgomery County residents may have concerns about the safe use of propane in their homes. With proper safety procedures and routine maintenance propane can be a safe alternative fuel, but when these precautions are not followed, the results can be catastrophic.

In suburban and rural Texas, propane is an everyday part of our lives. Unlike cities which have natural gas systems, many residents in Montgomery County rely on propane (sometimes called LPG or LP-gas) to heat their water, homes and cook their meals. Propane is transported in trucks and stored as a liquid in tanks on rural property and the flammable vapors are piped into each home and gas fired appliance. In its natural state, propane is a colorless and odorless gas. Since propane is odorless, it is intentionally odorized so leaks can be detected. The odor is similar to rotten eggs. Propane differs from natural gas in that its vapors are heavier than air and may accumulate in low-lying areas such as basements and ditches or along floors. Propane is flammable when mixed with air (oxygen) and can be ignited by many different sources.

If your home uses either natural gas or LPG, it should be equipped with a carbon monoxide detector on each floor. You may want to consider purchasing a dual purpose detector designed to alert you to either a build-up of carbon monoxide or a gas leak. These dual purpose units are generally available in the smoke detector aisle of most major hardware and home improvement stores.

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