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Using natural gas and LPG safely

You should always be aware of potential safety risks from fuel gas, whether you use piped (also known as reticulated) natural or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or an LPG cylinder or tank at your business or home.

Properties of fuel gases

Natural gas (methane) is lighter than air and a gas leak will tend to rise and may disperse in open atmosphere; however, LPG is heavier than air and can ‘pool’ in low areas and drains.

Fuel gases (e.g. natural gas and LPG) are highly flammable but are not poisonous or toxic. If an area becomes filled with fuel gas, it can displace oxygen causing nausea, dizziness, and possibly asphyxiation.

Fuel gases are colourless and odourless. A chemical called mercaptan is added to give it a distinctive odour, similar to that of rotten eggs, that is very easy to smell. This helps you to notice and react if there is a leak.

Gas safety precautions

It is important that you follow any safety requirements and manufacturers’ instructions (including warning labels and signage) when transporting or storing fuel gas and when using gas appliances such as cookers, barbecues and hot water systems). If you have any concerns, contact your gas supplier, a licensed gasfitter or the gas appliance manufacturer.

Only a licensed gasfitter can carry out gas work. Gas work includes installing, removing, altering, repairing, servicing, testing or certifying the gas system, including all pipework and connections. Always ask to see a person’s gas work licence before they do any gas work.

Do a safety check today

You can do a simple safety check of your gas system (e.g. your gas appliances, gas cylinders and/or gas meter) at your home or business:

  • Regularly inspect for any signs of corrosion, deterioration or damage.
  • Ensure there are no combustible materials near your gas appliances.
  • Ensure gas cylinders are secured and located away from ignition or heat sources and that the cylinder valve of any cylinder (whether full or ‘empty’) is sealed when not in use.
  • Do a leak check of your gas system.
  • Check the gas appliance manufacturer’s instructions for any other information about cleaning and maintenance.

How to do to leak check of your gas system

  • Place a good amount of detergent in a spray bottle with some water and combine.
  • With the gas turned on, lightly spray the mixture onto the:
    • meter or cylinder fittings
    • connection pipes or regulator hose
    • regulator
    • connection point to your portable gas device or house or business.
  • Look for bubbles anywhere from the cylinder to the connection point.
  • If you see any bubbles, you have a gas leak. Note the point of the leak and turn the gas supply off immediately.
  • Do not use the gas system until the leak has been fixed.
  • Once you have completed your check, wipe the soapy water off with clean water.

If you notice any gas leaks, contact your gas supplier or a licensed gasfitter.

What to do if you smell gas or if there is a fire

If you smell fuel gas:

  • don't panic, don't light any fires, and don’t turn any electrical devices (light switches) on or off
  • turn off the gas appliance
  • open doors and windows to ventilate the area
  • if you can still smell gas, turn off your gas supply and contact your gas supplier or a gasfitter for advice
  • if you can still smell gas after turning off your gas supply, call 000.

Your gas supplier's emergency number should be in the top right-hand corner of your gas bill under 'emergencies' or 'leaking gas'.

If you have a fire, explosion or uncontrolled gas leak call 000 immediately, and:

  • don't panic, don't light any fires, and don’t turn any electrical devices (light switches) on or off
  • evacuate the area
  • if it is safe to do so
    1. turn off the gas appliance and turn off the gas supply at the gas cylinder or meter
    2. extinguish the fire using a fire blanket or fire extinguisher
  • if the fire is extinguished, open doors and windows to ventilate the area.

Gas appliances

Gas appliances (such as cookers, barbecues and hot water systems) are approved devices. Gas appliances must be installed and used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

When buying a gas appliance, look for safety features such as:

  • a national gas device approval badge
  • flame failure devices, which cut off the gas if the flame is accidentally extinguished
  • automatic reignition, which allows the appliance to relight itself if the flame is accidentally extinguished.

When using a gas appliance:

  • always follow the manufacturer’s instructions
  • keep your device clean and free of rust or other debris
  • check that the spark igniter functions properly. If it is not working or not igniting within a few clicks, you should contact a gasfitter as the appliance may be faulty
  • check that your gas flame is burning evenly. If the flame is not steady or sputters, your gas supply may be running low or  as your appliance may be faulty or not set up correctly - you should contact a gasfitter.

Gas appliances should be periodically checked and serviced by a licensed gasfitter to ensure that they continue to operate safely and efficiently. If you have any concerns, contact the appliance manufacturer or a licensed gasfitter.

View our videos on the safe use and installation of gas appliances.

Portable butane 'lunch box' cookers

Portable butane cookers should only be used in the manner for which they were intended (e.g. simple stovetop cooking as depicted in the video).

View our video on butane lunch box cookers.

Some models of butane 'lunch box' style cookers have now been suspended or cancelled as part of a nationwide response to recent safety concerns.

Read the information bulletin on non-compliant butane gas cookers.

Visit the Gas Safety Queensland Facebook page.

Portable outdoor heaters

Portable outdoor heaters can produce large amounts of toxic carbon monoxide gas if they are used incorrectly or are not operating properly. If they are used indoors, this can result in carbon monoxide poisoning.

View our video Safety first: gas appliances and carbon monoxide.

To reduce the risk:

  • only operate heaters outdoors and check that plenty of fresh air is available
  • never use heaters indoors or in semi-enclosed areas
  • make sure you have your heaters serviced regularly by a licensed service technician, ideally before each winter
  • follow the manufacturer's directions
  • keep heaters well away from people and combustible materials (to the side or above the unit)
  • make sure the heaters are placed on a stable, level surface.

Heaters can be stored indoors, as long as the gas cylinder is disconnected and removed from the heater.

Gas cylinders

Your LPG distributor will maintain and test your connected cylinders. However, you still should be alert to any signs of malfunction, which could include a gas smell or damaged cylinder. If you have any concerns, phone your distributor.

Portable recreation LPG cylinders (barbecue, camping) need particular care. These cylinders usually contain 9kg of LPG and can be refilled or exchanged at most service stations.

All cylinders must have a valid 10-year stamp to be refilled. Gas refilling stations are obliged to check the date of every cylinder to be refilled. If the cylinder is not 'in test', it should not be filled.

Find out more about the safe use of gas cylinders.

Watch our videos about storing, transporting and maintaining gas cylinders.

Transporting cylinders

Keep cylinders secure during transport, and don't carry them in the passenger compartment. Use and store your cylinder in a well-ventilated area, and store away from excess heat and possible sources of ignition.

Find out more about the safe transport of cylinders.

Storing cylinders

Spare cylinders must be stored in a designated secure location, away from ignition or heat sources.

If storing the cylinders indoors in hotels, bars, restaurants, cafés, take-away shops, offices and laboratories, the maximum total quantity of gas allowed is 30kg. This could be three 9kg cylinders or two 15kg cylinders (the maximum allowable size).

See Australian Standard AS/NZS 1596:2008: The storage and handling of LP gas for details.

Outdoor events

If you are holding an outdoor event, make sure any gas installations comply with standards and portable appliances are used in line with the manufacturer’s instructions. Use our LPG gas safety checklist for outdoor events to record gas safety at the event.

If you have concerns about your gas system or supply please contact a licensed gasfitter or your gas supplier.

Read our Guideline for managing gas safety at public events (PDF, 158.1KB).

View our video on the safe use of BBQs and gas cylinders.

Excavating near gas pipelines

You have safety responsibilities if you are excavating on your property where there are gas pipelines. Underground gas pipes or electricity cables could be almost anywhere you dig, and damaging them may disrupt essential services, cause injuries and result in a fine.

To make sure your work is safe, visit Dial Before You Dig or phone on 1100 before you begin excavating.

Dial Before You Dig is a free service that covers electricity, gas, water and telecommunications, and provides the location of underground pipes and cables within your property. If the proposed excavation site within your property has underground networks, all relevant plans showing their location should be provided within 2 working days.

Gas-fuelled engines

If you’re thinking of installing an LPG system on your vehicle, you’ll need to use an authorised installer and acquire proper certification.

Vehicle air conditioning gas safety

The gas used in your vehicle’s air conditioning system is regulated under Queensland law for your safety. Find out how to safely and legally re-gas your vehicle air conditioning.

Gas flue terminals in recreational vehicles (RVs)

The flue terminal for gas appliances in RVs and caravans must be located outdoors. Without appropriate ventilation, the air within an enclosure will be used up, possibly causing incomplete combustion and carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you are thinking of adding an annex to your caravan, campervan or recreational vehicle, you will need to understand the ventilation requirements for fluing.

Gas safety questions or complaints

If you have any questions or complaints about gas safety, please email gassafe@dnrme.qld.gov.au.